Farm Profiles View Latest Profiles

Back to farm profiles

First year grain growers change lifestyle and scoop awards

Winners of the Waikato Region Yield Challenge and National Pioneer® Maize for Grain Yield Competeion, Chris and Terry O'Brien with immediate Past President, Pioneer® Dr Rick McConnell (left) and Eastern Waikato Area Manager

First year grain growers change lifestyle and scoop awards

2003/04 Season

Owners: Terry and Chris O'Brien
Farm location: Morrinsville
Farm size: 40 hectares
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: 34K77, 36808 & 3522 (for silage)
Number of seasons growing: 1

For Morrinsville farmers Terry and Chris O'Brien the first year growing maize for grain has proved to be a golden one. After growing maize for silage for the last 18 years, Terry and Chris decided to grow 40 hectares of maize for grain on their 70 hectare property and scooped all the prizes at this year's Pioneer® Maize for Grain Yield Competition. Terry and Chris O'Brien were awarded the Waikato and National Yield Cups at one of Pioneer's mid-winter Industry Get-Togethers held at the Waikato Stadium.

Bringing all his 18 years silage growing experience to bear on the grain crop, Terry set himself the goal of winning the cup, with his overall goal to perform at the top end of yields being achieved by other growers. "After seeing last year's presentation I set a goal of winning the cup" he says.

The yield competition was won with Pioneer® brand hybrid 34K77 hybrid yielding 17.81 tonnes a hectare. He believes this particular hybrid performed well due to a good growing season, but when pressed admits his attention to detail has definitely helped. "The steps to growing good maize that we gathered from last year's Pioneer Industry Get-Together certainly paid off. We paid particular attention to minimizing soil compaction and maintaining organic matter levels in the soil profile. We also learned a lot from just listening to others about what they did," he says.

Being new to growing grain, Terry was not sure which hybrid to grow. "I worked with Pioneer Area Manager Grant McDonald and Wrightson Grain Territory Manager Paul Baker, who helped me choose hybrids that fitted our growing environment and our business objectives", Terry says. Pioneer® brand hybrid 34K77 provided superior grain drydown and drought tolerance, while Pioneer® brand hybrid 36B08 was a great companion working well in terms of maturity timing for harvest. Terry also grew Pioneer® brand hybrid 3522 for maize silage as it has been a consistent performer and provides very good megajoules of metabolisable energy (MJME).

For Terry and Chris, maize growing has proved there can be a life and income after dairying. After 30 years of milking Terry and Chris decided they needed a lifestyle change and last year Terry hung up the cups for good and put the rest of their 70 hectare property into contract maize grain. Previously, they had been growing 30 hectares of maize silage for their own use. "The farm was too small to employ a manager and we were ready for a change of lifestyle, which this has certainly provided," says Terry. Achieving good grain and silage yields has meant the farm business is as profitable as when it was dairying.