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Considerations in the run-up to maize harvest

Considerations in the run-up to maize harvest
By Dr Simon Pope 7 months ago

As the maize harvest approaches, attention to detail will pay dividends.

Maize is a crop which responds well to careful management and it is also influenced by weather conditions during the entire growing season, explains Dr Simon Pope, Crop Protection Manager for Wynnstay.

“This year, maize is likely to yield well and be of a high quality. There have been very wet periods and some extremely hot weather, but the recent spells of sunshine and showers have been ideal for crop growth.

“The tassels are clearly visible on crops. Once the tassel has fully emerged on a plant, the silks begin to appear from the tip of the cob sheath and this event is shortly followed by pollen release by the tassels. The weather conditions during this stage are quite important. Pollen is only released by each plant over a period of about 7 to 10 days and for pollination to occur, a grain of pollen must land on a receptive silk. Very heavy rain or very high temperatures during this critical time can reduce the level of pollination which has a direct impact on the number of kernels which subsequently develop.”

“A lot of money, time and effort goes into producing the crop, and although we cannot control the weather, growers can apply the attention to detail that’s needed to get maize harvested in good condition, and ensiled correctly, to limit nutritional losses.

“A significant issue affecting maize in the clamp are losses due to aerobic spoilage and heating of the face, which devalues the Dry Matter (DM) feeding values.”

Research has shown that a 10oC rise in silage temperature at the clamp face over a three-day period can result in a loss of DM valued at £125/100 tonnes of 33% DM maize silage. Or more simply put, £1.25/tonne of silage.

“Treatment with an appropriate silage additive can considerably reduce this spoilage, and although additives are considered by some to be an unnecessary cost, they should be seen as a tool to protect the farmers’ investment in the crop,” explains Dr Pope.

“Consolidation of the pit is key to a successful fermentation process, and filling in layers of six to nine inches allows for effective compaction when rolled to expel as much air as possible. The less oxygen present, the lower the risks of losses due to aerobic spoilage.”

“Alongside good clamp management, the use of an additive will help to further reduce costly losses in feed value during the ensiling process. So there should be more maize to feed out, with higher nutritive quality, resulting in better animal performance”. The Wynnstay specialists can advise on the correct additive choice for the specific situation.

Maize is sometimes seen as a tricky crop to grow, but with attention to detail growers should aim to minimise losses at the final stage in the run up to harvest and during ensiling.”

14 May 2019 14:21:33


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