All stations go as maize yield climbs 10-15% up

3 October 1997

All stations go as maize yield climbs 10-15% up

BUMPER yields and excellent cob maturity are making this years maize harvest a dream for growers but a nightmare for some contractors.

With four out of the seven FW-monitored maize crops harvested, and cutting of the remaining three sites expected within 14 days, first reports suggest a 10-15% increase in yields.

Grainseed technical manager Mike Warden says that harvesting activity is feverish as cobs have ripened quickly and plant dry matters have reached the optimum 30% DM target two weeks earlier than expected after ideal weather.

"Although cobs have ripened, plants are still green and active, which bodes well for digestibility and intakes," says Mr Warden.

Despite the greenness of the plant he advises growers to harvest before the grain becomes over-ripe or cattle will not be able to digest the grain and silage quality will be poor.

But Cheshire-based contractor Charlie Fewtrell reports that the combination of hard grain and green crops is making harvesting difficult.

"This year plants are so green that juice is pouring out of the trailers and stems are clogging the forage harvester.

"We are having to open the corn cracker up to allow the weight of green material through."

He warns that if contractors are not careful, some of the grains could pass through uncracked.

"To do a good job we are having to move slowly at a time when demand for our service has been concentrated into a smaller period because more early varieties are grown," says Mr Fewtrell.

"Cobs are definitely ready for harvest but in my opinion the rest of the plant is just too wet and I would like to know how much of the nutrient value is being lost along with effluent," says Mr Fewtrell.

&#8226 Effluent from wet maize crops can be reduced by placing straw or dried sugar beet shreds in the clamp, according to MGA agronomist Simon Draper.

"Where crops are wet he suggests organising harvest and ensiling so that the greener varieties are placed on the top of the clamp.

This will help consolidate the drier crop beneath and soaks up the effluent which contains valuable sugars.

Straw or dried sugar beet shreds also help absorb effluent but sugar beet will alter the feed value of the maize. Growers must, therefore, consult a nutritionist before formulating rations, advises Mr Draper.

Forage maize dry matter data from seven farms

Site locationHeight above DrillingDM%DM%

sea level(m)dateSep 18Sep 25

Crediton, Devon11818/429CUT

Attleborough, Norfolk2525/431.9CUT

Gelli Aur College Dyfed238/523.124.6

Winchester, Hants10012/428.3CUT

Ticknall, Derbys6717/429.7CUT

Castle Howard, Yorks759/526.828.0

Dumfries, Scotland4515/520.222.5

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