‘I think we can look forward to a very good crop of maize’

2020 may well be a bumper year for maize crops. Conditions so far have been favourable, but July and August will hold the key to a good yield.

This week, AgriLand spoke to Maizetech’s John Foley who noted that the best of the crops are shoulder high, while many are waist high.

“We don’t need anymore moisture for the moment. It’s all about heat and heat units from here on in. It’s July and August that really makes the maize crop at the end of the day. That’s when we get the massive growth in maize. You could almost see crops growing on a daily basis now,” John explained.

I think we can look forward to a very good crop of maize.

John hopes to see maize tasseling at the end of July or the first days of August and he noted that from looking at crops that were planted in April that should be happening.

The season so far

Talking about the season so far, John commented: “It was a cold season at the start. We had frost up until May 15 or 16.

“The few leaves that did get through the film, we could see the damage that was done, but that has no long-term affect on the crop. The leaves that come through early would be staying on the ground and as long as the growing point wasn’t exposed there was never going to be long-term damage.”

Weed control

The dry sowing season meant that residual herbicides were going to find it hard to work to their best. Below the plastic weed control was successful, but between rows many farmers had to return with the sprayer.

On the dry season, he explained: “In that situation [dry conditions] there’s always a problem with pre-emergence herbicides. They all need a bit of moisture. The control of weeds under plastic was excellent, because there was a bit of moisture, but it was outside the film where the problems were.”

However, John noted that he had advised a large number of his customers not to spray between the rows at planting where conditions were extremely dry. This allowed farmers to return with an effective herbicide.

Rainfall

John commented that: “It was only when we got that rain crops greened up.

At this stage maize is probably averaging waist high and some of the best crops would be shoulder high.

“They’re a real rich, green colour. Once we got the weeds under control it was just a matter of closing the gate and watching it grow.”

Fodder deficit

Given the drought conditions of the weeks gone by, in many areas, those who planted maize will be glad to have it in their fodder budgets and, as conditions are good, they may be looking at bumper crops, but the next few weeks will decide that.

“I think we have an excellent crop of maize at the moment and it is a year to have good crops of maize,” John noted.

He added that everybody seems to be a little bit tight on winter feed and while second-cut silage looks promising those with maize crops will be glad to have them this season when crops look set to yield well.

Maize area

According to figures from the Department of Agriculture, which come from Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) applications, the area planted to maize in 2020 declined.

However, John noted that Maizetech saw its area of maize hold firm and may have even increased slightly. He noted that many farmers opted to sow maize as the season moved on and when the price of barley didn’t look promising.