The Department of Agriculture has cancelled its uncovered maize trials, leaving maize farmers without any independent Irish research on uncovered varieties of maize.

Until now the Department trialled, over three years, new varieties of maize for inclusion in its Recommended List, at five centres around the country. The most recent trials for uncovered maize were carried out in Cork, Kilkenny, Waterford and Kildare between 2012 and 2014.

These trials included 20 different varieties but the move means the Department has confirmed that it will not carry out any trials in 2015 on uncovered crops.

The Department has said previously that farmers should give preference to the varieties included in its recommended list and sources say that approximately 65% of uncovered maize grown is from the Department’s recommended list.

It also runs trials of maize under plastic at four centres around the country, which look at 18 varieties. The varieties are assessed as to their suitability under Irish conditions for dry matter yield, dry matte content, starch content and other traits. While covered maize is more popular with growers, it is estimated that some 65% of uncovered crops are grown in Ireland is not from the Department’s recommended list.

The majority of maize sown in Ireland is under plastic, but approximately 6,500 acres of uncovered crops are grown every year in Ireland.

The majority of uncovered maize grown in Ireland is around the south east, mainly Wexford.