Welsh farmers are being urged to consider establishing a ryegrass-based catch crop immediately after this season’s maize harvest to help bridge forage gaps following the summer drought.
This is the message from ProCam agronomist, Gareth Williams, who believes conditions for drilling after maize could be more favourable than usual this year across areas of west and southern Wales where he operates.
“Rainfall during the establishment phase and plenty of sunshine later on in parts of Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion has resulted in some excellent maize crops this year,” says Mr Williams.
“Maize established under film has done particularly well and some of these crops will be fit to harvest up to two weeks earlier than usual which increases the opportunities to establish a following catch crop.
“It is also likely that soils will remain warmer further into the autumn, following the heatwave, so that will create a longer sowing window, irrespective of maize harvest dates.”
In areas where forage supplies are less of an issue, Mr Williams adds following maize with a cover crop is still good practice for fertility building, soil conditioning and to suppress weeds.
“Establishing any kind of green cover after maize is better than leaving the soil bare. Some may have time to establish mustard as a cover crop, or a mixture of forage rye with winter vetch.”