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Specific hybrids for specific growing environments

David Dempsey (right) with Pioneer Area Manager David McDonald.

Specific hybrids for specific growing environments

2007/08 Season

Owners: David Dempsey
Farm location: Manawatu
Farm size: 40 ha
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: 36B08, 36M28, 38B85
Number of seasons growing: 12

Maize for grain is the first choice crop for Manawatu farmer David Dempsey because it generates an income without needing hands on day-to-day involvement.

David, wife Pamela and their three daughters Katie, Aimee and Emily moved off a family dairy farm at Marton and into Palmerston North in 1996. At the same time, they bought their 40 ha farm which is located behind the Ohakea airbase near Bulls and started growing maize.

"We wanted something that would be as little work as possible because I was spending most of my time agricultural contracting. We also didn’t want the commitment of livestock since we were not living on the property," says David. "Maize was the ideal option."

The Dempsey’s block which borders the Rangitikei River is mainly free-draining river silt. David does all of the work associated with the crop except harvesting and cartage.

"We use conventional tillage practices," says David. "The stubble is mulched after harvest, we plough in late July/early August and then leave the land fallow until about three weeks prior to planting when we run the tine cultivator through a couple of times."

The crop is planted between 1 and 20 October depending on weather conditions. All of the urea is applied prior to planting. Weed control includes a pre emergent herbicide and post emergent herbicide is applied as required to control weeds especially bindweed and hemlock. "After spraying there is really nothing to do until harvest," says David. "I watch the crops carefully until they are about 30 cm high but after that I just check them occasionally."

David has been involved in the Pioneer on farm trialing programme for a number of seasons and this helps him to identify new hybrids to plant on farm. Last season, he planted a mix of Pioneer® brand 36B08 and 34K77 on the flats. The crops yielded on average 14 t/ha. A dry, more exposed hill paddock was planted in Pioneer® brand 38B85 and yielded 12 t/ha. This season David has planted 36B08 and 36M28 on the flats and 38B85 on the hill.

"We plant Pioneer® brand maize because of the large range of hybrids available," says David. "Other companies don’t have enough hybrids to suit the varying growing conditions that we experience."