Back Crop options for late planting.

Date: 22 October 2015

If you are farming in a warmer district and you want to secure your summer or autumn feed supply, it is not too late to plant maize for silage or greenfeed or a forage sorghum x sudan grass crop. These crops are also excellent options if you have encountered establishment issues and have “patchy” brassica, chicory or fodder beet crops.

Hybrid maize for silage or greenfeed

Maize is a deep-rooting plant with a summer water use efficiency three times that of pasture. It will continue to accumulate yield long after shallow rooted species have stopped growing. A key advantage of maize is its large seed which can be planted into the soil moisture zone allowing good establishment even when planting conditions are dry.

Maize also delivers excellent flexibility. If you plant a Pioneer® brand maize silage hybrid it can be used as a greenfeed crop for early summer use or it can be ensiled if you don’t need the feed prior to silage harvest time.

The best method of planting and maize seed choice will be determined by how you plan to use the crop.


Crop end use

Method of planting

Seed option

Greenfeed only

Conventional seed drill (15 cm rows) Forage King hybrid maize seed blend

Greenfeed with remaining crop made into silage

Conventional seed drill (15 cm rows) Pioneer® brand maize hybrid – please contact your local Pioneer representative for a hybrid recommendation.

Maize silage only

Maize precision planter


The feed value for greenfeed maize is in the range 10.3 - 10.8 MJME/kgDM with higher energy levels being achieved as the grain content increases. Greenfeed maize typically has slightly higher (9-10%) protein levels than maize silage.

Crops can be break fed or chopped using a maize harvester or a flail type mower. Feeding behind an electric wire reduces crop wastage from trampling. Care should be taken when green-feeding crops have high amounts of grain present as excessive grain intake can lead to acidosis, also known as grain overload.


Forage sorghum x sudan grass hybrids

Forage sorghum x sudan grass hybrids are an excellent option for summer feed in warmer districts producing good yields of moderate quality feed in a relatively short time-frame even under dry growing conditions. Because they grow rapidly, crops can be grazed or harvested (at 80 -100 cm in height) as little as 35 - 45 days after planting for its first grazing and then further grazing’s may be achieved at regular intervals after this.

Pioneer® brand Bettagraze is a proven forage sorghum x sudangrass hybrid. Key benefits of Bettagraze include:

  • A larger seed which can be planted into the soil moisture zone.
  • Rapid early growth and quick recovery after grazing.
  • Delayed flowering for easier management
  • High sugar content, fine stems and a high leaf-to-stem ratio for excellent palatability and good feed value.

Unlike many other crops which must be grazed when they are mature, Bettagraze is versatile. Whilst it can be grazed, if the feed is not required, it can be harvested as silage or hay and stored for feeding at a later date when there is a genuine feed deficit. When harvested at the optimum stage (80 - 100 cm in height) it has good energy and protein levels.


For more information on growing maize for greenfeed or silage or Bettagraze contact your local Pioneer representative.