Back Planning your maize silage for next season

Date: 13 May 2014


With this season almost at a close, it is time to start thinking about the next one. Autumn is a great time to get into planning mode and to start thinking about your maize silage requirements.

The first step is to decide which paddock(s) to crop. It usually makes sense to choose the ones which are growing the least grass as these will get the most benefit from pasture renovation. There are many good reasons for using a maize crop in the pasture renewal process. Cropping reduces insect pressure and allows weed, soil fertility, compaction and drainage issues to be addressed.

Drainage Issues
Maize requires good drainage for optimal growth. Water-logged soils can create issues for seedling crops. Weed control is often poor and crop nutrients can be lost through leaching and run-off. Assessing and addressing drainage issues will not only help ensure a good maize crop, it will also improve future pasture production.

Soil Test
Farmers should ideally test and not guess their maize fertiliser requirements. Soil nutrient levels vary from year to year so it is important to soil test both repeat, and new cropping ground every year. This will help prevent under or over application of nutrients. When soil testing for maize, the core should be taken to a depth of 150 mm on mineral soils and 300 mm on peat soils. Liming is also very important and autumn application will help rectify soil pH in time for spring planting.

Selecting the right hybrid

It is very important to choose the correct Pioneer® brand maize hybrid to suit your region and farm system.

When selecting a hybrid consider the following:

• CRM. The comparative relative maturity (CRM) of the maize hybrid gives an indication of the amount of heat required and therefore the time it will take for the crop to reach harvest maturity. Low CRM hybrids take less time to reach harvest maturity than high CRM hybrids. For best results, select a hybrid that's not too long or too short for your growing environment.

• Drymatter and Grain Yield. Planting the highest drymatter and grain producing hybrids for your area will help maximise metabolisable energy per hectare. The maize kernel accounts for 75% of the energy in maize silage while the stover (leaf and stem) is only 25% of the total energy yield.

• Agronomic strengths. Choose hybrids that have the right agronomic characteristics (e.g. drought tolerance, disease resistance, stalk and root strength) for your growing environment. If the crop is being planted into a paddock where moisture is limiting, consider one of the following hybrids from the Optimum AQUAmax® range available this season: P9911 and P0791.

For help in selecting the right hybrid for your farm try our Hybrid Selector tool

Contractor communication
Good communication means tasks are completed in a timely fashion. Contractors play an important role in establishing maize crops and it is important to communicate with them early to lock in your target planting dates. Make sure you mention if any development work such as drainage and contouring needs to be completed prior to planting.

Paul Greenbank

Area Manager, Hamilton North