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Maize for grain - the easy care crop

From left Mary and Duncan Campbell with granddaughter Sophia, Cherie and Simon Campbell with daughter Millie and son William.

Maize for grain - the easy care crop

2007/08 Season

Owners: Campbell Family
Farm location: Manawatu
Farm size: 45 ha
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: 38T27, 38P05, 38B85, 39F85 (silage)
Number of seasons growing: 25

Simon and Cherie Campbell, twins William and Sophia (14 months) and baby Millie (7 weeks) are in partnership with Simon’s parents Duncan and Mary Campbell in a mixed cropping and livestock operation at Opiki near Palmerston North.

Their 180 ha farm fattens cattle and lambs and grows potatoes and winter wheat as well as around 45 ha of maize each year.

"My father started growing maize many years ago as a rotation crop that would fit in after late harvested potatoes," says Simon. "We can harvest the potatoes in July/August and plant maize the following spring."

Simon looks for maize hybrids that will produce excellent yields even under variable growing conditions. Good stalk and root strength are essential to ensure easy harvesting and good yields.

For the past two seasons the Campbells have planted a mix of Pioneer® brand 38T27, 38P05 and 38B85 for grain and around 8 ha of 39F58 which is harvested for silage. Despite a really wet season, last year’s 38T27 averaged 12.5 t/ha.

"This year’s crops had the best ever start but conditions turned dry during the grain-fill period, we felt this might restrict yields," says Simon. "So far we have harvested our silage and a paddock of 38P05 and these have yielded better than expected."

Maize ground is normally ploughed. Simon uses 12:10:10 at 350-380 kg/ha as a starter fertiliser depending on paddock fertility. "Ironically the biggest weed problem in our maize crops is potatoes," says Simon. "We apply a pre emergent weed control herbicide and then wait for the potatoes to come up before we spray with Callisto."

Crops are normally harvested by the end of May.

"We try and choose shorter maturity hybrids that are harvested before the ground gets too wet," says Simon. After grain harvest some of the maize paddocks are direct drilled into wheat, others are re-grassed and the remainder are left fallow and planted into maize or potatoes the following spring. "For us the big benefit of maize is that it fits into our rotation well and we have achieved consistent yields over a lot of growing seasons," says Simon. "Maize is also easy care when compared to other crops – once maize is up and growing there is not much to do."