High-quality maize harvest set to start a week earlier than usual

Mark Hosford expects farmers to be cutting maize in east Cork in the last week in September.

The area manager for Southern Fuel and Farm Supplies was inspecting crops this week and spoke to AgriLand about progress and quality.

“Crops are looking very well. They have come on nicely and even bulked out a little bit since the rain came,” Mark explained.

“The first thing we did yesterday was pull back a few cobs. They have nice full grains and are full to the tip. What I noticed was, when they tasseled there were nice conditions for pollination, so we have full cobs of grain.

Mark Hosford checking crop condition

“The main cob is full, which is good because the energy is in the grain,” Mark explained.

The cob makes up 50% of the dry matter yield so you need a good cob.

Mark keeps note of crop progress in his diary every year and estimates that crops are running a week ahead of the usual schedule.

“They’re running a week ahead of normal. Some of the earlier sown maize that was set in the last days of April or the May bank holiday weekend is probably going to come in a week earlier than normal.

Crops are maturing quite fast because of the heat; maize loves heat so they’re ripening a little bit earlier than last year. Maybe a week earlier.

“I’d say we will be cutting in the last week of September. It depends on the variety – late or intermediate. In general they’re looking quite advanced for this time of the year.”

Crop condition

Mark has not seen any eyespot or other diseases on crops this season and reported nice green leaves. He doesn’t expect fresh yield to be up, but expects an increase in dry matter yield.

I wouldn’t expect fresh yield to increase dramatically, but there will be very high dry matter yields because crops will mature in plenty of time and will be cut in time.

Weather playing a big role in maize crop’s success

The warm weather this year is a big factor in the yield and quality of the crops.

“Sometimes if maize is maturing slowly and has had very wet and cold weather the cobs wouldn’t be as mature as they are today.”

Mark outlined that in other years, if crops are not mature and a bad frost comes – in October for example – the plant might start to shut down. The cob will not be fully formed.

“This year cobs will easily reach maturity. There will be very good cobs on maize.”

Maize has performed better than other crops this year

“The way the year has worked out, the hot weather has suited maize more than other crops. Beans and grass were badly affected by the drought, and beet to a certain extent was slow to fill in the rows; but maize loves the heat and it has done very well this year.

We had an increase in planting this year and we’d expect to see an increase next year.

Mark noticed when out walking crops this season that patches of maize on headlands where plastic had been torn away were curling up due to the drought. The plastic was helping to hold in moisture.

“The plastic on the maize actually holds in a bit of moisture. Obviously the number one aim of the plastic used on maize is to increase the heat units, but it also locks in or traps a lot of the moisture; which was a great thing this year.”

Increase in maize acreage

Mark estimates that the maize acreage has increased by 35% in his area this season. He also predicts that the area will increase again next year. He stated that farmers are glad that they have the forage crop in this year and will sow it again.

“I see an increase in maize because the forage crisis is rumbling on,” he added.

Farmers will get high-yielding and excellent quality forage – from maize this year – from one cut. That’s an important point; that it’s from one cut.

“If you want big tonnes of high-quality forage, maize really is the answer.”