In 2019, Morris Davies who runs a herd of 280 all year round calving cows averaging 9,700 litres took the decision to try growing maize again.
“We had grown maize up until 20 years ago when we decided to expand the herd and needed all the ground for grazing. To be honest it had always been a difficult crop to grow as we are right on the Cardiganshire coast.
“We had been feeding grass silage and wholecrop as the main winter forages but as we wanted to increase starch levels and try to boost milk from forage we decided to have another go, with all maize grown on rented land. Cefin Evans from Wynnstay said the new varieties would mean we could expect to get a decent crop if we chose varieties carefully.”
In 2019 they chose the well-established LG variety Reason, growing 50 acres under plastic to help ensure the crop got away well and matured in time. “The crop came off well and the cows certainly responded as we were able to feed grass silage, maize and wholecrop. In discussion with Cefin, we decided to increase the acreage and also selecting some really early varieties to grow conventionally and compare against the crop under plastic.”
This year Morris has grown 30 acres of Reason again under film alongside 40 acres split between Reason, Prospect and
Gema which was grown conventionally.
“We have been really pleased with how all three varieties have looked during the year. We harvested the Reason under plastic at the beginning of October and it yielded 17- 18t/acre. We ran out of maize in July so it is good to get it back into the diet.
“The conventional Reason, Gema and Prospect will be harvested by mid-October and I am confident we can feed maize all year round.”All the maize was sprayed with N-Durance 28, which contains protected urea, just before tasselling. Since 30% of the nitrogen requirement of the crop occurs from tasselling onwards, an application of foliar nitrogen at this time helps to build cob yield. In addition to this treatment, half of the crop of Prospect was also treated with Vivid fungicide which reduces Eyespot infection and it has also been shown to improve cob size and grain yield.
Cefin Evans comments: “The development of early maturing, high-quality varieties means more farmers can look at growing maize, safe in the knowledge it will be harvested in good time and yield well. The application of N-Durance 28 certainly gives the crop a boost and there was a clear difference in disease control and cob size where fungicide was applied. It is this extra attention to detail that pushes crop performance.”