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Making maize decisions in 2020

Making maize decisions in 2020
By Dr Simon Pope 6 days ago

Maize is proving to be a popular cropping choice for spring 2020 due to the reduced area of winter cereals.

Grown to feed on the farm or to sell to others, the crop has become an important component of dairy and beef rations. Farmers are seeing the benefits from the high starch and fermentable energy content, with improved animal performance on both dairy and beef enterprises, explains Wynnstay crop protection manager, Dr Simon Pope.

“The impact of the wet weather on autumn sowing has shifted the focus of many growers onto suitable spring cropping. And in addition to the forecasted increase in area of spring cereals we are also seeing a surge in interest in maize.”

Ahead of the 2020 season, Dr Pope highlights the fundamentals to consider before confirming any variety choice.

“There are many factors to consider. The single biggest influence for a successful maize crop is the weather, and of course we have no control over this whatsoever. However, by concentrating on the factors which are under our control, we can improve the likelihood of a successful outcome at harvest-time.”

Dr Pope explains that field selection is always the first step. “Knowing the field history will help determine potential challenges. Has compaction been a problem? Considering the soil conditions over winter - is the field well drained? Are there any known fertility issues which need to be corrected? Are there any problem weeds which require specific control measures? By considering such questions well ahead of time it is easier to draw up an effective plan of attack.”

He also explains that it’s worth considering the soil type and nutrient status of each field. Light soils are more prone to loss of nutrients through leaching and the high rainfall totals will have had an effect which must be taken into consideration.

“Important questions to address are, what’s the field’s pH status, and are you aware of the phosphate and potash indices? Even if you have tested the soil in recent years it would be a good idea to complete new soil analyses to ensure the crop nutrient requirements are supplied by FYM, slurry and fertiliser. Wynnstay specialists can help to draw up tailored nutrient management plans.”

A variety which is already seeing high volumes of seed sales is Reason, which has performed exceptionally well in recent years.

“This variety is early maturing without compromising yield, and given its reliability it is very popular with growers,” says Dr Pope.

Although Reason has been seen as the ‘leading’ choice for the coming season, there are other options available for growers to ensure a variety for all crop situations. Gema is a new introduction which combines true ultra-early maturity with yield and quality that rivals many much later varieties. “Acumen is still going strong for those growers who have difficult growing conditions, but still require an extremely reliable and early maturing variety.

“And, for those growers where price is more important than top flight performance, Tekni could be considered. The variety has performed consistently in trials, and has good resistance to lodging and disease,” he adds.

“Given the increased interest in maize this year the seed of some varieties is already becoming short, so the best advice is to order as early as possible to be sure of availability.”

Written by Dr Simon Pope BASIS FACTS BETADr Simon Pope BASIS FACTS BETA