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    Latest Maize Variety Evaluation Report Highlights Best Value Crops
23/12/08

Despite the difficulty of the growing season, forage maize in the 2008 Kingshay trials delivered an average estimated crop value of nearly £600/acre compared to just under £440/acre in 2007, reveals the independent dairy specialist’s latest annual maize variety report published this month.

Maize

While part of the increased value relates to higher feed prices, the 34 best and most promising varieties evaluated under strictly commercial conditions on five different farms from Somerset to Cheshire in 2008 gave notably higher across-the-board outputs than those tested on a similar basis the year before.

Yields of fresh matter in arguably the best independent field scale variety evaluations in the country were slightly higher this year but much higher dry matter contents boosted dry matter yields from less than 5 t/acre to well over 6 t/acre. Starch contents were also encouragingly up on 2007.

Average Annual Kingshay Maize Variety Testing Results
 

2007

2008

Fresh yield (t/acre)

19.2

20.0

Dry matter content (%)

25.5

32.0

Dry matter yield (t/acre)

4.9

6.3

ME (MJ/kg DM)

11.1

11.2

Starch (%)

24.4

32.0

Estimated crop value (£/acre)

£437

£584

The year-on-year performance differences were, however, minor compared to the differences recorded by Kingshay between varieties in the past season, highlighting the critical importance of variety choice under the very much more challenging maize growing conditions of recent years.

“On what we term our intermediate maize growing sites, for instance, individual variety dry matter yields ranged from just 5 t/ha to fully 7.5 t/ha and starch contents from less than 25% to over 35%,” explains Kingshay technical manager, Dr Martin Yeates who heads up the testing programme.

“This gave estimated crop values of well under £440/acre at the one extreme to over £640/acre at the other – an advantage many times greater than any difference in seed costs.

“The fact that one of the best performing varieties in our intermediate site trials delivered a decidedly below average performance under more challenging marginal site conditions further emphasises the need to match varieties carefully to sites for the best performance,” he adds.

On the evidence of recent Kingshay trial experience, Dr Yeates has no doubt that most maize growers should place greater priority in their variety selection on performance on their marginal sites (which roughly equate to the NIAB List’s less favourable sites) these days. That way they have the assurance of knowing they are growing a crop best able to cope with climatic conditions which seem to be giving far less leeway with maize than ever before.

“Forage maize has certainly become more of a challenge to grow in recent years,” he concludes. “Our independent field scale testing of the most promising modern varieties, however, clearly shows that with the right care and attention it can continue to deliver handsomely for British dairymen.”


The 26-page Maize Varieties 2009 Report – complete with annual and rolling seven year average variety performance results, early vigour, cob ripeness and stay green scores, and practical advice on variety selection – is provided free of charge to Kingshay members from the team at Bridge Farm, West Bradley near Glastonbury (Tel: 01458 851555).

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