Choosing a variety of maize to suit your situation

HOUGH the land rises to 700 feet and the col-der, wetter conditions combine for a shorter growing season, forage maize is proving a worthwhile crop on a Powys livestock farm.
The key is choosing a variety suitable for less favoured areas as Richard and Jane Powell are finding at their Guddr Farm, Llanbedr, near Crickhowell.
“It is a great source of starch and energy and it works for us,” says Mr Powell, who uses the crop for finishing beef cattle and shared his experiences at a Farming Connect-organised event, which focused on how good yields can be achieved in areas considered marginal for maize production.
The Powells are using maize variety Acumen, included on the NIAB list as a first choice variety for less favourable sites.
The crop is drilled in the first week of May and harvested in early October, achieving yields of between 6.8-7.2 tonnes per hectare (17-18t/acre) fresh weight at 32 per cent dry matter.
Farm adviser John Morgan told the event more maize is grown globally than any other crop, with farmers favouring the consistency it delivers in livestock diets.
“Even though a number of climatic and soil factors are needed to get the best from the crop, it is still possible to achieve good yields in the marginal regions of Wales,” said Mr Morgan.
“But to get the best from the crop in these areas every variable must be right and central to this is the variety of seed.

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“While variety choice for less favourable sites is limited, those recommended on the NIAB list can achieve up to 18t/ha DM.”
At Guddr Farm, the maize is being grown on an east-facing slope at 700 feet in soil that does not retain moisture well.
“But by using the variety Acumen, the period from drilling to maturity is shorter and the higher the maturity level the shorter the season from seed to harvestable maize,” added Mr Morgan.
“Site selection is crucial and farmers need to carefully manage maize stubble to prevent compaction and run-off.
“Compacted bare stubbles are potential risk areas over winter and farmers can adopt practical measures, such as chisel ploughing to loosen and roughen the soil surface, to remove compaction. Winter crop cover will also help stabilise soils.
“Another option for marginal areas is to grow maize under film, in which the crop can be planted earlier in March or April. Germination is earlier and the crop speeds through the growth cycle more quickly.”



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