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Poverty Bay grain crop yields over 20 tonnes dry per hectare

2008 Pioneer National Yield Cup winner Gisborne grain grower Brian Amor.

Poverty Bay grain crop yields over 20 tonnes dry per hectare

2008/09 Season

Owners: Brian Amor
Farm location: Gisborne

An outstanding Pioneer® brand 34B97 strip trial yield of 20.01 t/ha saw Poverty Bay maize grower Brian Amor win the 2008 Pioneer Maize for Grain Yield Competition.

Each season Brian and his wife Margaret grow 30 ha of Pioneer® brand maize on their farm at Waitui, approximately 20 km north of Gisborne. The resultant grain, along with around 2,000 tonnes of contracted maize purchased from local growers, is dried and stored on site. It provides the fuel for 30,000 laying hens that produce nearly one million dozen eggs each year.

Day-old Red Shaver and Hyline chicks are purchased in 5,000 bird lots and reared for 22 weeks until they reach point of lay. Layers produce around 24 dozen eggs each over a period of 62 weeks. They are fed a mash which has been carefully formulated using a least-cost ration programme comprising of 55% maize as well as smaller amounts of other ingredients including meat meal, soymeal, lime, barley and minerals.

“We feed maize grain because it contains high levels of energy and gives us good yellow yolks,” says Brian. “It’s the best and the cheapest grain that we can get.”

The Amors’ eggs are sold throughout Poverty Bay, from Wairoa through to the East Coast under the Morning Harvest brand.

Brian is a seasoned maize grower having been in the business for more than 25 years. Maize is grown on-farm in two main blocks – a 7 ha loam “top country” and a 23 ha silt “bottom country”. The bottom, which is protected from the Waipoa River by a stop bank, has flooded twice since the Amors purchased it, including during Cyclone Bola in 1988.

In the 2008/09 growing season, the top country was planted in Pioneer® brand 33J24 and the bottom country in Pioneer® brand 36B08. The overall average yield was 16.1 t/ha.

This year Brian has planted Pioneer® brand 34B97 on the top country after its record-breaking performance in last season’s trial.

“The long-term average yield on our land is around 13.6 t/ha, but in the last few years yields have risen closer to 16 t/ha.”

Each year, the stubble is mulched post-harvest and left on the top of the ground. During the winter, chicken manure is spread over the farm at a rate of approximately 2 t/ha. Brian ploughs and cultivates himself, producing a fine, even, weed-free seedbed prior to planting which starts in early October.

Local contractor Tony Ferkins plants the top country at 92,000 seeds per ha and the bottom country at 88,000 seeds per ha. Brian uses 250 kg/ha of Cropmaster 15 as a starter fertiliser and applies 100 kg/ha of sidedress urea when the maize is around 300 mm high.

Brian believes the secret to achieving consistently high maize grain yields lies in looking after his land and maintaining high soil fertility levels.

“Owning land is like having money in the bank,” explains Brian. “Putting on fertiliser is like making a deposit and taking a maize crop off is like making a withdrawal. It’s all about managing the land so that soil fertility is maintained.”