Consider varietal choice carefully and place seed orders early for Maize this spring is the advice from leading crop production specialists Hutchinsons.
There are several factors that will affect the maize market this spring, making variety choice and early ordering of seed more important than ever, says Peter Brundle, national energy seed crops manager for Hutchinsons.
With the shortage in winter cereals being drilled following the wet autumn, and a shortage of some spring cropping options, predictions are that the amount of maize grown will rise.
“However, at the same time, some maize varieties may also be in short supply following a difficult European seed growing season,” he points out.
“We are also facing the first season without a key seed treatment Mesurol (Methiocarb). Although registered as an insecticide, Mesurol has bird repellent properties that maize growers have relied on for many years.”
“The most proven and cost effective replacement option for Mesurol is Korit (Ziram 420g/l) which has been used in Ireland and the UK for the last five years, however supplies may not be sufficient to cope with a big increase in demand.”
“It’s important to recognise that Korit is a hazardous product, so gloves and masks (PPE) must be used. Any seeds left on the surface must be picked up after drilling.”
“Following the wet weather at the end of harvest 2019, farmers may be inclined to opt for earlier varieties which will allow them to get the crop off sooner, but it’s important not to have a knee jerk reaction when it comes to variety selection as there may be a yield penalty as a consequence”
The range of maize seed varieties available in the UK is extensive and selection can be challenging, he acknowledges. “However it is important to pick varieties that suit your particular region with local climate, topography and soil type affecting the choice.”
“At Hutchinsons we are in enviable position of being able to pull together variety data from regional trials and feedback from our national network of agronomists to supplement existing data - so we really know what suits a particular region or situation.”
“It sounds obvious but always pick a variety that meets your demands – if you are growing for AD the varietal characteristics that suit high DM yields may be different to the quality attributes required to feed cows.”
For growers with larger areas It makes sense to select a range of variety maturity dates to spread risk, adds Peter.
“Variety maturity dates (FAO score) are a good guide to maturity, however there can be some variability between breeders ratings.”
“There is an excellent range of proven varieties for growers this spring within all of the maturity categories from a range of breeders. Particularly exciting this year are the new varieties, P7948 from Pioneer and Ability from DLF/Limagrain. “
“P7948 is a high yielding intermediate maturing hybrid with a large stature suitable for biogas and grain on favourable sites. Ability is an adaptable early variety which has performed well in trials and is suitable for forage and biogas purposes.”
“So, with all of these factors in play it’s imperative to get your maize seed order in sooner than usual to ensure the correct choice of seed that is appropriately treated.”
Top tips for the season
Jim Clark, agronomist with Hutchinsons based in Carlisle, is responsible for the agronomy of large acreages of maize for both feed and AD.
His advice for a successful maize crop this season is to ensure that establishment is as good as possible. His top tips for this season are:
- Let the fields dry out before sowing your maize crop. Some fields may need shallow cultivations to help with drainage.
- Dig a hole to see where the plough pan sits – and then set the cultivator to the correct depth to break this up – this does not need to be any deeper than 1” below the plough pan in most situations.
- Soil sampling will be more important than ever as nutrients could have been leached out of the soils, and be aware that the weather affects RB209 values.
- A starter fertiliser and micro-nutrients in the seedbed are important to getting the crop up and away. Think about potash in the seed bed, not just nitrogen- although it is likely nitrogen will be needed later in the season as well.
- Aim to place the seed just below 5cm- as this is longer than a rooks beak – so is more difficult for the birds to get to.
- For maize going in under film, aim for a finer, firmer seed bed to improve pre-emergence efficacy.
- Ideally, crops should be treated with a pre-emergence and post emergence spray. The same applies for those growing maize under film although you may have to wait until the weeds are through and the maize has broken through the film before the second spray is applied.