14 April 1995

Dry spell gives light land edge in maize drilling stakes

By Michael Gaisford

FORAGE maize drilling is now well under way on lighter land in the south of England.

The recent drier spell has permitted final pre-drilling cultivations and the soil to warm-up close to the minimum 9C (48.2F) necessary for seed germination.

But on heavier ground, final cultivations are still taking place before drilling with one of the many early varieties on offer.

"But dont cut corners on seed-bed preparation," warns Keith Galley of Force Limagrain, UK distributors of one of the most popular early varieties, LG 2080.

"Eighty per cent of succces in maize growing comes from drilling into a well prepared seed-bed," he advises. That message is echoed by Maize Growers Association crop consultant Simon Draper. He says the ground is now warming-up fast, with temperatures up 3-4C (5.5-7F) on the same time last year.

Mr Draper reports that already this year on many south-facing slopes soil temperatures have reached 8C (46.4F), which he considers to be an acceptable drilling temperature. But he also advises drilling only into a good seed-bed.

Growers on north-facing sites at high altitudes and those in the north of the country should use a simple thermometer to check soil temperatures before drilling, as described in the MGAs latest bulletin to its 1637 members, where he also details the pros and cons of subsoiling before seed-bed preparation this spring. &#42