‘Farmers looking forward to a bumper maize harvest’

Irish growers are expected to reap a bumper crop of maize at harvest time this autumn, according to Samco’s Stephanie Shine.

“What began as a difficult and challenging spring for farmers across the country has potentially developed into an excellent year once again for maize growers.

“The late and wet spring has led to difficult growing conditions for crops such as beet and spring wheat and barley. Furthermore, the drought over the past few weeks has placed these crops under increased stress,” she explained.

Maize, on the other hand, looks to be flourishing despite late sowing for many growers.

Maize crops appear to be well on target for record yields for a fourth year running. And experts, seeing a bumper crop last season, have experienced a 65% growth in maize acreage across the country.

“It is acknowledged that this increase is as a result of fodder shortages and the realisation of the benefits of feeding high-value maize silage.

“Not alone are the traditional spring crops under pressure in many parts of the country, but – in recent days – grazing ground has become tight with growth rates decreasing. This may in turn force farmers to graze into second cuts and possibly enforce the introduction of winter forage into animal diets.

“Maize has in the past and will prove in the future to compliment many farm systems as a buffer feed. It will play a huge role this year to overcome yet another daunting fodder shortage.”

Continuing, she said: “Experts feel maize will become more significant in years to come, as cow numbers and dairy herds increase across the country in line with the production of larger milk volumes.

Maize will prove invaluable in buffer feeding in the shoulders of the year, as traditionally we can grow adequate grass for the months of June, July and August.

“Buffer feeding maize along with quality grass in the spring time will increase milk yields, the overall animal health and condition, and enhance breeding programmes.

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“It will also reduce the need to include the feeding of concentrates in the diet. The effect of feeding home-grown, high-quality forage reduces the country’s reliance on low-energy, imported dried feeds and is beneficial to the Irish economy in general.”

The Samco system

Touching on the Samco system, Stephanie explained: “The primary reason that maize crops are not suffering in the recent drought conditions is due to the use of Samco film at time of sowing.

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“The Samco system increases air and soil temperature and locks in the moisture under the film early in the growing season.

“Moisture under the film provides for early root development, crop germination and strong plant establishment. It also enhances the pre-residual effect for the pre-emergence herbicides, resulting in efficient and prolonged weed control.”