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Maize delivers excellent yields in Marlborough

Maize delivers excellent yields in Marlborough

2011/12 Season

Owners: The Jones Family
Farm location: Seddon, Marlborough

Marlborough farmers Andrew and Bill Jones have been growing maize grain for the past three years. This year’s crops have been established using vertical strip till and they are very enthusiastic about the results.

“Vertical strip till is an absolutely fantastic way to farm because you know you are doing the best for your soils and your crops”, says Andrew.

The Jones family has been farming in Marlborough for four generations. Andrew, wife Jo and their three daughters live in the original homestead which was built in 1890. Andrew’s brother James is the viticulturist for the family’s vineyards, while Andrew manages the cropping operation for familyowned Starborough Farming Company Ltd. This diverse cropping operation includes sweetcorn, wheat, seed peas, dry bean seed, red clover seed and the maize grain.

“ Maize grain is a good fit because it allows us to spread our workload and utilise our machinery better”, says Andrew. “It’s a robust crop to grow and it delivers excellent yields.”

Andrew planted 7 ha of maize grain for the first time in spring 2010. He increased the area to 11 ha in 2011. This season he has planted 36 ha of Pioneer® brand 37Y12 under irrigation and also trialled 4 ha of 38V12 under dryland conditions.

“Average yields have ranged from 11-13 t/ha dry, with top crops producing more than 16 t/ha under irrigation”, says Andrew. “This season the 38V12 yielded 7.5t/ha dry which is a lot better than any other spring sown crop would have produced on a badly droughted dryland paddock in Marlborough.”

Paddocks are sprayed out in September, left to die down, then prepared for planting using an Orthman strip till machine. Maize seed is planted at 100,000 seeds per hectare using a 36” (91cm) row John Deere precision planter.

Grain harvest normally starts in mid-April with the dryland crops coming off first. Over the winter of 2012 Andrew imported a Masterfarm diesel-fuelled drier and he is drying the grain on-farm prior to sale. It takes four to five hours to load, dry, cool and unload 11 tonne of grain.

“The real beauty of maize is it will grow well even in the dry corners of a paddock”, says Andrew. “We plant it in irregularly shaped paddocks where the irrigation is not quite as good and it still performs.”