Getting ready for maize harvest

As September arrives thoughts turn towards the maize harvest, which in favourable areas is now almost upon us. A great deal of time and money is invested in growing a top-quality crop, avoid falling at the final hurdle and ensure the same level of attention to detail is applied as the crop is ensiled.

Harvesting your maize at the right time is essential to maximising feed value. However, every year is different and harvest date is heavily influenced by the weather throughout the growing season and the accumulated heat units. Given favourable conditions, the maize plant will ripen increasingly quickly through September – at a rate of roughly 2% every week. And it’s important to keep a close eye on cob maturity throughout this period to make sure the crop is harvested at exactly the right stage; too early results in lower starch and reduced feed value, too late and the grain is bullet hard and digestibility is reduced.

Once harvest date is established, another important decision concerns the correct chop length for your ration structure. My advice would be to seek guidance from one of Wynnstay’s dairy or beef specialists to ensure you are managing the chop length correctly for your individual situation. This will help to keep a consistent feed-out and so increase intake levels.

When filling the pit it is essential to roll the forage properly to expel as much air as possible and then immediately seal once the pit is full. Good clamp management can help mitigate losses due to aerobic spoilage and heating at the face. Research has indicated that a 10˚C increase in silage temperature at the clamp face over 3 days 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.

Don’t underestimate the value of a good silage additive, which will help to improve the feeding quality of maize silage and minimise the loss of valuable nutrients by reducing the risk of aerobic spoilage. Visit to view our range of maize additives or speak to your local specialist for more advice on additive use and harvest management in general.

Click here to find your local arable specialist or call the Arable Department on 01939 210555.


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