Plant early maturing maize varieties to prevent delays in winter wheat drilling
Planting an early maturing maize variety can help maximise the performance of a successful follow-on winter wheat crop. Data from HGCAâs latest five year rolling Recommended List trials has shown that delaying winter wheat drilling to late November could result in a yield loss of almost 1t/ha, when compared to drilling in late September. Limagrainâs Tim Richmond takes up the story: âThis equates to a potential loss of £216/ha. So, with maize it is essential to sow a sufficiently early maturing variety to help prevent a late harvest and subsequent delayed wheat drilling in the crop rotation.â
In the Recommended List trials, which were planted in late September/early October, the mean yield of the control varieties was 10.2t/ha, whereas when sowing was delayed to late autumn, the control yield dropped to 9.3t/ha, a reduction of 0.9t/ha. Mr Richmond added: âLatest prices put feed wheat at £197/t, and milling wheat at £216/t, so a loss of nearly 1t/ha soon adds up.
âIn a rotation where the follow-on crop benefits from early drilling, growers should choose an early maturing variety of maize so it matures on time to fit the schedule. The modern genetics bred into the new early maturing varieties, like Ambition and Fieldstar, can deliver both earliness and yield, making variety choice simpler.
âGrowers planting early maturing varieties like these have a âwin-winâ situation, the maize is fully mature and harvested early enough so that winter wheat is drilled early and there is no loss of grain yield. Sowing a later maturing variety would mean having to wait for the maize to mature, resulting in a potential loss of 1t/ha wheat yield due to delayed sowing. With the current high wheat prices itâs madness to lose out.â
âIf maize isnât mature by harvest time then growers have a difficult decision to make; leave the maize to reach its full maturity, resulting in a late wheat drilling and a loss of grain yield. Or harvest the maize before reaching maturity in order to drill the wheat on time, consequently losing out on maize forage quality.â
Mr Richmond added: âAfter the poor weather weâve had over the last few years, sowing an early maturing variety of maize can be the difference between being able to sow a follow-on winter crop or not. It also gives a longer window of opportunity for drilling the follow-on crop, thus thereâs less pressure to get onto the land and risk damaging the soil, with the knock-on effect that would then have on wheat yields.â