Rain this weekend has delayed what was going to be an early maize harvest across the country. Last week, at the National Ploughing Championships, AgriLand caught up with John Foley of Maizetech.

He gave some advice on maize maturity and the right time to get the harvester into the field. John noted that maize is coming in very early this year.

Viewers should note that the video below was taken last Tuesday, September 17, so plants may have progressed further in the meantime.

John estimated that some crops in the south east of the country would be ready for harvest this week. However, poor weather conditions have scuppered hopes of harvesting. He added that the north east could be 10 to 14 days behind.

What to look out for when deciding when to cut?

“Sugar is not a stable product in a silage pit. If that plant is chopped too early sugar will run out into the tank, so that’s energy loss,” John noted.

Once sugars have turned to starch the product is stable and ready for preservation. John added that this process has been underway for the past five to six weeks.

Looking at maize varieties from different parts of the country which John had collected, he noted that plants which still have a very green leaf around the cob are not ready for harvest and are still high in sugar content.

Examining a plant with a white leaf John explained: “This inner leaf is gone white. That means sugar is down to 1-2%. At this stage if that plant was put in the pit it’s very stable. It’s probably 30% dry matter [DM].”

The season so far

So far this year John stated is has been “an excellent growing season for maize”. Despite the cold start, high temperatures in June and July along with a nice amount of moisture in the ground meant that crops had an ideal growing season.

Late maturing varieties, which have higher yield potential, will be expected to reach maturity by the end of September or early October.