Maize Watch: Harvest gets under way

Maize harvest has now started in the middle of the country with some record yields reported in Lincolnshire where early varieties have hit the target dry matter of 30-35%.

The maturity of maize crops are increasing steadily despite the rain and cloud cover reports Neil Groom, technical director for Grainseed.

“The crops are in the dry-down phase and this will increase quicker if we get some cooler nights and brighter days,” says Mr Groom.

Derbyshire harvest progress

Robert Parker sampling for Farmers Weekly at Ticknall in Derbyshire, has chopped a small amount of maize to clamp and ferment ready for early feeding.

“We don’t have enough in the clamp to feed through to November so we have cut some on the green side and clamped it in a small pit so it can make while the main crop reaches full maturity. The big clamp can then be properly sealed for six weeks while we feed out this miniclamp.

“Yield was over 20t/acre [49t/ha] and I am really pleased with my maize this year,” comments Mr Parker.

See also: Watch a video on maize harvesting including tips on assessing maturity, reducing aerobic spoilage and achieving correct compaction and sheeting

Reclamping last year’s maize

Mr Groom believes this is a good strategy and urges growers not to bury last year’s maize at the back of the clamp, but reclamp it instead.

He says that maize re-clamps very well with good rolling and sheeting and cows will do better on old maize rather than new.

He says maize reclamps very well with good rolling and sheeting and cows will do better on old maize rather than new.

“We all know maize feeds better after Christmas when it has been sealed in the clamp to ferment properly.

“This is because the starch grains become softer with time in the clamp and the cows are therefore able to digest and utilise more of the crop’s energy if the silage has been fermented for at least six weeks,” he adds.


Drill date

Ht above sea level (m)

Crop dry matter 26 September

Increase from last week

Petworth, Sussex

2 May




Harleston, Norfolk

5 May




Crediton, Devon

24 April




Ticknall, Derbyshire

7 May




Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire*

10 May





SRUC, Dumfries, Scotland (plastic)

4 May




* Variety Es Picker, all other sites are Es Ballade. Variety under plastic Es Marco