The fourth article in our Maize Matters series highlights the difficult start to the season and offers some advice on herbicide and fertiliser applications.
The slow start means crops will need all the help they can get as growing gets underway, says Andrew Clune of BASF. Many farmers who traditionally use a pre-emergence herbicide held off, due to lack of soil moisture.
He says: “It was a tricky start to the year and we need to do everything possible, to help crops get away. Pre-emergence treatments give the best control, but there is still time to apply a residual product before the 2-leaf stage. A full rate of Wing-P (dimethenamid-p + pendimethalin) is useful in dry conditions, or where cranesbill is an issue.
Two litres of Stomp Aqua plus two litres of Wing-P is a more cost-effective solution in a broad-spectrum situation with adequate moisture levels.” He also recommends the use of a foliar feed. “A foliar product containing phosphate, manganese and magnesium will help to correct any deficiencies. It must be applied before any sign of a problem, because yield will have been sacrificed, by the time symptoms become visible.”
John Morgan of KWS says the relatively dry conditions on many farms this spring allowed plenty of time for seedbed preparation, although low temperatures held up drilling and he concurs moisture was scarce, especially on lighter land. He says earlier varieties have proved their worth in 2017.
Mr Morgan says: “Certain milk buyers have voiced concerns over leaving maize fields bare over winter. Some producers have responded, by sowing a short-term grass ley as a cover crop and taking a cut before maize planting.
This system has generally worked well. “However, later drilling shortens the growing season and limits heat units numbers available for crop development. Earlier varieties have been bred to maximise shorter growing periods and have the potential to produce high quality and decent yields, allowing the farmer greater flexibility and the ability to meet compliance recommendations.”
KWS is conducting trials on two farms this year, to monitor the yield and quality results of five different maize seed rates, from 85,000 seeds/ha to 110,000 seeds/ha.
Milk producer, Fraser Jones of Court Calmore Farm in Montgomery, Powys, is hosting the west of England trial, while Spilsby, Lincolnbased biogas grower and AD plant owner, Alistair Hall-Jones, has provided the East of England site at Hare Hills Farm in Spilsby in Lincolnshire. Both farms are using Autens KWS, which tops the NIAB variety list for 2018. Both were drilled using a Vaderstad Tempo V, selected for its ability to meet precision sowing requirements.
Energy crops field day
KWS is hosting a maize open day for AD plant owners, managers and biogas growers on September 12. It is being held at the KWS maize variety demonstration site at Lydney in Gloucestershire. Adjacent to the demonstration field is an anaerobic digester, as well as a dryer.
Autumn demonstration site open days
The Lydney site will also be open to all visitors, as individuals or in groups, from the end of August until early October. The demonstration site includes variety plots with all of the current commercial hybrids, plus a first look at the new hybrids pre-listing.
It also has a population wheel, a chemical demonstration section and an AD trial. KWS has extended its demonstration field site at Lydney for this year, to show varietal performance at a higher altitude. Nearby trial plots at St Briavels offer an exact duplicate variety strip trial at about 180m, compared with the almost sea-level main demonstration field.
Site visit bookings
To book a place at the energy crops field day, or to arrange a site visit, contact Alison on 01594 528 234 or email email@example.com.