“Farmers select varieties using a range of criteria but need to be clear about the objectives,” comments Limagrain Maize Manager Tim Richmond. “Once a shortlist has been developed that meet the agronomic demands of the farm site, it is then vital that selected varieties will deliver the highest quality forage to ensure maize supplies the maximum benefit in terms of reducing feed costs and improving margins.
“This means looking at varieties which combine good starch content with high cell wall digestibility (CWD) to maximise the utilisation of the feed value contained in the vegetative parts of the plant.”
In addition to helping increase energy yield from the crop, Mr Richmond says Danish research confirms the importance of selecting varieties with high CWD.
“Each 1% rise in CWD increases total dry matter intake by 0.17kg/day due to superior rumen function. In the research this additional intake resulted in a yield increase of 0.25 litres per cow per day. By selecting varieties with a good balance of starch and CWD, farmers will increase production from forage and reduce purchased feed requirements.”
Limagrain will be showcasing varieties which ranked highly in the 2017 BSPB/NIAB Maize Descriptive Varieties List as well as explaining the financial benefits to producers. Reason is a new variety with very early maturity which scores highly when assessed on energy yield, while Glory, a well-established and popular variety continues to top the list on starch yield.
The company will use a NIRS mobile forage analyser on the stand to demonstrate the difference in feed value between varieties. Visitors to the stand can collect a free copy of the Limagrain Maize Variety Selection Guide, which incorporates the 2017 BSPB/NIAB Descriptive List for Forage Maize.
“Variety selection can have a huge impact on margins. Selecting the optimum variety can mean the difference between a timely harvest of a quality crop and a disappointing harvest.
“Furthermore, there is a significant difference in milk yield per hectare between average and top varieties ranked on energy yield. A high quality variety like Reason will produce sufficient energy to produce an extra 800 litres per hectare compared to the average variety, while its superior CWD will support at extra 0.2 litres/cow/day as a result of increased intakes.
“As they plan for 2017, farmers need to look closely at what varieties will put in the clamp when planning cropping for next year, to ensure the varieties grown deliver the best return on investment.”