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Maize meets challenges of East Coast

Neil Rogers (right) with Pioneer® Seed Production Manager and area Manager for the East Coast and Poverty Bay Phil Evens.

Maize meets challenges of East Coast

2005/06 Season

Owners: Neil Rogers
Farm location: East Coast
Farm size: 700 hectares
Pioneer® brand hybrids grown: 33J24, 34D71, 36B08, 38P05
Number of seasons growing: over 20

Despite maize being a low risk crop offering healthy returns, the East Coast provides its share of challenges to the crop and growers. The 2005-06 season was no exception.

Floods hit the province in October, but luckily for Neil Rogers they came early enough to still give him a chance to plant his maize crop. Worst hit was the Tolaga Bay region, but Neil managed to plant there in time for his crops to weather the second floods that followed five weeks later.

Neil also has the good fortune and foresight to have his East Cape maize growing operations spread between Waihau Bay, Ruatoria and Tolaga Bay. He grows a large area of maize totalling 700 hectares which is spread over 200 km.

With over 20 years of maize growing experience, Neil has developed a simple, effective recipe for getting the crop planted and established quickly on the East Coast.

"Basically, growing maize requires good drainage, a pH of 6 and plenty of nitrogen and phosphate," says Neil.

These key aspects form part of Neil’s philosophy of keeping the process as straightforward as possible.

Bulk spread urea is applied at up to 300 kg per hectare before planting. The crops are planted in 20 inch (0.5 m) rows. Side dressings of 150 kg per hectare of urea are aerially applied.

Ripping is undertaken post harvest to improve drainage and disking incorporates trash prior to superphosphate being applied.

His strategy of keeping it simple also applies to his machinery. Running just three tractors, Neil says if he undertook the traditional approach of ploughing and double passes he would only be able to cover half the area.

He plants Pioneer® brand 33J24 at Waihau Bay for its full season yield potential in the temperate climate of the far Eastern Bay of Plenty.

To allow for the somewhat cooler temperatures around the Coast, Neil uses 34D71 at Tolaga Bay. Pioneer® brand 36B08 and then 38P05 are planted at Ruatoria.

Working with Pioneer on trial sites across his growing area gives Neil good insight to the new hybrids coming through Pioneer’s extensive hybrid evaluation programme. It also provides Pioneer with one of the toughest areas for trials, due to the occurrence of leaf diseases through the region.

Neil says "The biggest reward with being a large scale grower comes with the challenge of growing in such a difficult area. Overcoming remoteness, distance between crops and disease risks to improve crop yields from one year to the next gives me great satisfaction."

His success has been helped by not spending too much, challenging traditional cropping conventions and growing hybrids well suited to the climate and the seasonal challenges it brings.