Maize update

Published 13 September 13

Three farmers from across the country tell us a bit about how this year’s maize growing season has progressed.

Cornwall

“We planted 90 acres of maize in the first week of May, a bit later than normal due to the cold weather we had,” says Dave Treleaven, who farms near St Austell. “Although it was slow to start it established well and certainly was ‘knee high by the fourth of July’. But it was in the hot period from July onwards that the maize really got going and motored ahead.

“On the coast here in Cornwall we don’t always get fantastic yields from maize, as the cold sea wind can play havoc with it, but it looks like yields are going to be fantastic this year.

“The cobs are still green and have a bit of ripening to do so I don’t think we’ll be harvesting until mid to end October, about the time we would normally. I certainly looked after the maize, fertiliser wise, because after last winter we were desperately low on forages so I wanted to make sure we had a good crop. This may have meant the plant has kept on growing rather than maturing.

“We didn’t suffer too badly with the hot dry spell as the canopy had grown over by that point and protected the plant from too much moisture loss. I think July is the month maize is either won or lost in, this year the month was just cracking for us.”

Lincolnshire

Roger Kelk, from Sleaford in Lincolnshire, planted 160 acres of maize in the last week of April/beginning of May, about a week later than usual, again due to cold conditions this Spring.

“We really struggled in May, June and July with cold soil temperatures and then dry conditions but ever since we had a bit of rain the plants have really taken off,” he says.

“We’re looking to harvest somewhere around the second week of October, which is later than we would usually. It just shows however the plant has grown well in the later part of the summer it’s not been able to make up the time we lost at the beginning of the season.”

Staffordshire

Staffordshire dairy farmer Adam Ball says: “We planted our 50 acres of maize in the second week of May, about two weeks later than normal.  Soil temperature really delayed us but since then we haven’t looked back.

“The crop established well and really loved that dry sunny weather we had. Last year’s maize disaster just demonstrates how vital sunshine is to the plant. I’d say this has been the best year for us, maize-wise, for a long time.

“I used an early maturing variety because we’re on marginal land but the good conditions mean we have not had to compromise on yield.”