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Maize for grain operation yields profit with lower risk

Mercer grain grower Ashley Thomas.

Maize for grain operation yields profit with lower risk

2003/04 Season

Owners: Ashley Thomas
Farm location: South Auckland
Farm size: 120 hectares
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: 38P05 & 36B08
Number of seasons growing: 9

A steady return with relatively low capital input makes maize grain growing integral to Ashley Thomas's land redevelopment programme. Maize grain has not only helped develop the land near Mercer, it provides a return that is steadier and less capital intensive than what his market gardening peers contend with up the road at Bombay.

Maize is normally a low risk crop on the flood prone Mercer flats, but exceptional rainfall in February this year threatened his whole crop. With five tractors pumping continuously for over a week Ashley was able to save all but a few hectares of his crop.

The floods left him impressed with the hardiness of Pioneer® brand hybrid 38P05 which was exposed to the flood waters. He normally plants this early maturing hybrid to avoid the risk of flood exposure, but never expected it to be exposed over the driest month of the year.

Now after harvest, there is little sign of any on-going damage from having wet feet for over a week.

He also plants Pioneer® brand 36B08, offering potentially greater yield with longer maturity. Ashley says maize grain is easily maintained, once established properly. "Early on you need to look out for cutworm, and maybe control weeds. It is certainly less risky than crops like onions and potatoes."

Running a 114 hectare dairy unit nearby, means maize grain provides excellent utilisation of equipment and staff all year round. Ashley grows another 25 hectares of maize silage for his dairy herd.

Ashley says "the price per tonne of maize has not changed significantly over the last 5 seasons which has meant a steady profit and at the same time reduced my business risk."