Back Successful maize establishment

Date: 18 September 2017

If you are planning to grow a maize silage crop this spring, now is the time to book your contractor and order maize supplies including insecticide-treated Pioneer® brand maize seed.

Following these steps will help you to achieve a high-yielding crop:

Paddock selection. Choose your paddock as soon as possible and plan to carry out any necessary drainage work prior to maize crop establishment. Well drained paddocks allow earlier cultivation, improved maize establishment and better weed control.

Soil test.  Soil core to the depth of cultivation - normally 150 mm and up to 300 mm on peat soils. Your local farm supply or fertiliser company representative can help you determine the right fertiliser and lime application programme.

Book your contractor. Contact your local contractor to book in base fertiliser application as well as spraying out pasture, cultivation and planting.

Choose your hybrid. Some important factors to consider are:

  • Days from planting to silage harvest. See the Pioneer® brand Maize for Silage catalogue 2017 for average planting and harvest dates for Pioneer hybrids in your area.
  • High total DM and grain yield. Hybrids must have a high total drymatter yield as well as a high grain yield to achieve maximum metabolisable energy yield per hectare. Grain yield is important as two-thirds of the energy in maize silage comes from the grain.
  • High population adaptability. High plant populations are necessary to ensure high silage yields. All Pioneer® brand maize silage hybrids have been fully tested for their adaptability to high populations and fulfil this requirement.

Make sure you order insecticide treated Pioneer® brand maize seed well in advance of planting.

Spray out paddock using glyphosate. Spraying out pasture reduces the number of cultivation passes required to achieve a desirable seed bed. It also eliminates pasture re-growth and reduces turf clods on the seed bed surface. This in turn enhances the performance of other chemicals for weed control as well as improves establishment. 


Apply base fertiliser. Fertiliser requirements will vary greatly depending on the history and fertility status of the paddock. High fertility long-term dairy pastures, including those which have had a history of effluent application, may require no fertiliser while continually cropped paddocks or run-out sheep and beef farm pastures sometimes require capital fertiliser applications.

Seedbed. A well-prepared seedbed enables weed control chemicals and insecticides to give optimum results, enhances crop establishment and allows planting machinery to function more accurately.

Plant crop. Hybrid maize seed must be precision planted. Choose a reputable contractor with well-maintained equipment. Research has shown that keeping plant population up to the recommended levels will maximise maize silage yield.

Starter fertiliser. The soil test will determine the type and rate of starter fertiliser required.

Weed control. Pre-emergent herbicides (such as Roustabout®) will be most effective if applied within 24 hours of planting. 

The type of post-emergent weed control herbicide used is determined by the type of weeds present. Seek specialist advice from your merchant, chemical company representative or Pioneer representative.

Check crop. Maize crops should be walked every 2-3 days during the early part of the growing season. Keep an eye out for insect or bird damage, weeds and signs of nutrient deficiencies.

Nitrogen sidedressing. Where required, sidedressing normally occurs when the crop is knee-high (approximately six weeks after planting). Urea is the most commonly used nitrogen product for sidedressing and application methods range from broadcasting urea just prior to rain to knifing it into the soil between the rows using specialised machinery.


Growing a high-yielding maize silage crop requires good preparation and attention to detail so start planning your crop today. For more information on how to establish a successful maize crop, contact your local Pioneer representative at or call 0800 PIONEER (746 633).