“With maize costing around £800/ha to grow it is vital that farmers maximise the return on this investment,” comments Tim Richmond, Maize Manager, UK and Ireland with LG Seeds.
“Whether you are in a favourable or less favourable area, there are basically three core objectives. The first is to grow a variety that will mature early on increasing the prospect of getting it harvested in good time and allow a successor crop to be established. The second is to ensure to produce the best yield of high-quality feed, and finally you want feed available to include the diet as early as possible in the autumn. All these are driven by variety selection.”
With big developments in plant breeding including improvements in feed parameters like Cell Wall Digestibility, Mr Richmond says there are big benefits from looking to grow some of the newer varieties on the list.
The Maize Variety Selection Guide contains data on all the varieties on the 2020 BSPB/NIAB descriptive lists with data presented in easy to understand charts, allowing quick comparison between varieties.
Tables provide information on quality characteristics including cell wall digestibility and starch content, enabling choices to be made to maximise the total feeding quality of maize silage. Vital agronomic information such as lodging, maturity and early vigour data is also included.
“The objective is to choose the varieties best suited to the farm situation which will maximise the nutrients available to feed stock next winter,” he continues.
“When making the decision, farmers have to consider a wide range of factors including maturity date, agronomic factors, yield and quality which can make it a challenging decision with a significant range of varieties available. Getting the choice right can have a major impact on the quality and quantity of forage produced which will have a significant effect on performance and margins.”
He says the benefits of growing one of the best new varieties can be significant. Prospect which combines early maturity for a reliable harvest with exceptional yields and feed value can produce an extra 2500 litres of milk per hectare compared to the average variety, giving an additional £700/ha return from the crop.
“New varieties like Trooper, Gema and Resolute also deliver an exceptional return while longer established varieties like Glory still allow farmers to make an excellent return by delivering high quality feed combined with early maturity.”