Successful pasture establishment after maize
Date: 27 February 2017
There are a number of key steps which will help you establish a high yielding pasture after maize silage harvest. These are:
- Choose the right maturity maize hybrid. Maize hybrids require a varying amount of time to go from planting to silage harvest. Select a hybrid that will be off early enough to allow timely regrassing. The ideal regrassing date varies by district, season and soil type but late March to late April is generally ideal except in the South Island where pasture needs to be planted by mid-March. If for any reason silage harvest is delayed consider planting a winter crop (especially a large-seeded crop like oats or triticale) or annual ryegrass. These will be easier to establish under cool soil conditions than slower growing pasture species (e.g. clover).
Approximate days from planting to harvest for Pioneer® brand maize hybrids are published in the Pioneer® brand Maize Silage catalogue each year. If you would like to receive a complimentary copy, click here.
- Order pasture seed. Discuss cultivar and pasture mix options with your local merchant or seed company representative. Always plant treated seed as endophyte does not protect young seedlings. Ensure all seed you purchase is certified for germination, purity and endophyte levels.
- Spray out weeds. As soon as the maize crop is harvested, walk the paddock looking for weeds. Where necessary spray out the whole paddock or spot spray with glyphosate. The application rate will depend on the type of weeds present. Contact your local merchant or herbicide company representative for paddock-specific advice.
- Soil test and apply the appropriate fertiliser. In a six month growing period a maize silage crop can produce double the annual drymatter yield of permanent pasture. For this reason maize has a high requirement for nutrients especially nitrogen and potassium. The type and amount of fertiliser required for successful pasture establishment will vary depending on the soil nutrient status prior to maize cropping, the type and amount of fertiliser applied to the maize and the crop yield. Soil testing and applying the appropriate fertiliser prior to pasture establishment will help ensure your new pasture does not run out of nutrients.
- Drill pasture seed into the maize stubble. Unless the paddock is particularly rough it is unnecessary to cultivate after maize silage harvest. Cultivating the paddock a second time costs money. It also tends to bring up sizeable balls of maize roots which require time to decompose before pasture seed can easily be drilled into the paddock.
- Use recommended seeding rates. There is no evidence to suggest that higher seeding rates will improve pasture establishment. High rates of ryegrass seed reduces the competitiveness and therefore the establishment of slower establishing species (e.g. white clover).
Growing maize is an integral part of a pasture renewal programme. Choosing the correct maize hybrid, controlling weeds after maize silage harvest, applying appropriate fertiliser nutrients for the new pasture and drilling quality seed into the maize stubble at recommended seeding rates will help ensure your pasture establishment is successful.