Early maturing maize matters

The benefits of using an early maturing variety were showcased at a maize open day in Bangor-On-Dee, where farmers had the opportunity to view some of the 6,000 trial plots at the site.

“The 2017 growing season has differed significantly from last year, with increased rainfall and less sunlight hours during August and September providing less than ideal conditions for cob development and ripening,” says Dr Simon Pope, Wynnstay maize & crop protection manager.

As a result, he says that the season has really suited early maturing varieties, such as Reason.

“Varieties such as Reason not only allow growers to capitalise on the benefits of an early harvest, which includes avoiding damaging the soil, they still deliver on yield and quality, and can out-perform later varieties in almost every respect.”

The event provided the opportunity for growers to test their own maize crop using the NIRS (Near Infrared Spectroscopy) machine, with samples from more than 60 crops, encompassing 17 varieties, being tested.

“DM, starch, neutral detergent fibre (NDF), cell wall digestibility (CWD) and metabolisable energy (ME) levels were all tested, and results indicated that early maturing varieties have performed well and were on target for a timely harvest,” explains Dr Pope.

“Reason performed consistently well across the board, with DM of 28% and starch of 29%, suggesting these crops would be ready to harvest during the first few days of October.

“CWD levels were also good, at 50.9%, and it recorded one of the highest ME values of 11.4 MJ/kg ME out of all the samples that were tested,” he adds.

Also noticeable was the way different varieties responded to eyespot.

“Some samples brought in from our trial plots in both North Wales and West Wales, presented very high levels of eyespot this season,” says Dr Pope.

“It was interesting to note that some of the varieties which were particularly hard hit by the disease actually have quite high ratings on the NIAB descriptive list. In complete contrast, other varieties which should be expected to suffer badly given their eyespot rating, were in fact as clean as a whistle.”

He adds that the NIRS analysis also highlighted the advantages of using a combined treatment of a fertiliser and fungicide this year, with some samples from North Wales showing a real benefit.

“The samples we saw on the day showed that those sprayed with a tank-mix of the fungicide Vivid and the liquid foliar nitrogen fertiliser Efficient-28 had higher DM, starch and CWD values compared to the crop from the same field that hadn’t been sprayed. The level of eyespot control achieved by the fungicide was astonishingly good.

“While it’s not common practice, an application of liquid urea at tasseling is highly recommended for growers that want to provide optimum nutrition for their maize crop,” he says.

“As the 2017 maize harvest draws to a close, it will be interesting to see how crops performed overall this year and the nutritional value of maize in the clamp, and how this influences subsequent decisions on 2018 maize varieties.”

Please call the Maize Department on 01939 210555 for more information on maize inputs.

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