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Maize - a valuable rotation crop

Maize - a valuable rotation crop

2012/13 Season

Owners: AS Wilcox and Sons
Farm location: Matamata, Waikato

Maize forms an important part of the cropping rotation for AS Wilcox and Sons who specialise in growing, packing and distributing potatoes, onions and carrots for domestic and export markets.

In the 2012/2013 growing season, the company’s Matamata operation, managed by Mike Taylor, planted 240 ha of potatoes, 250 ha of onions, 85 ha of maize grain and 290 ha of maize silage.The cropping rotation, which is designed to minimise weed build-up and diseases, starts with a potato crop followed by two years of onions and three years of maize.

“Growing maize allows us to build-up organic matter levels while we get the soil ready for the next potato crop”, says Mike.

“We have tried growing other cereal crops but nothing outperforms maize."

Soil preparation for maize consists of a single pass with a Simba single-pass cultivator. Every paddock is soil sampled and a base fertiliser of 0-500 kg/ha of Murate of Potash is broadcast pre-plant according to soil test results.

Crops are planted from early October onwards with a starter fertiliser of 100-150 kg DAP. The weed control regime includes acetachlor sprayed behind the planter and Callisto®* applied post-plant to control broadleaf weeds, including wireweed which can be a “nightmare” in onion crops. Once the maize crops are harvested the area is direct drilled with Tama annual ryegrass which is sold as a standing crop for lamb or dairy grazing and silage.

Mike is chasing high yields and each season he plants a mix of Pioneer® brand maize hybrids selected according to paddock type, time of planting and the crop’s end-use. In 2012 he planted a range of hybrids including 34B97 for gritting and a mix of 33M54, 34P88, P0891 and P0791 for silage. Typical average yields are in the range of 23-24 tDM/ha for silage and 12 t/ha for grain.

“Pioneer hybrids are ahead of the others in terms of yield”, says Mike “ I’ve always planted Pioneer and I don’t see any reason to change.”