Written by John Swire
Farmers planning to grow maize next year should consider placing seed orders well in advance to secure their preferred variety, leading agronomy firm Hutchinsons advises.
The crop has seen increasing demand over recent seasons and this year there is the added complication of the uncertainty about how Brexit will affect trade with Europe and elsewhere, Hutchinsons southern seeds manager Peter Brundle explains.
This means many seed suppliers are planning to bring stocks of key varieties into the UK earlier than normal to avoid disruption to supplies in the event of a “no-deal” outcome to Brexit negotiations.
“Generally growers start to order seed before Christmas, with the ordering window going right through to the spring, and some waiting until March or April before making a decision. Given the uncertainty around Brexit and the growing popularity of maize, growers really should consider ordering earlier this year to secure preferred varieties.”
Defra statistics illustrate the rising popularity of maize, showing that over the past five years the UK area has increased from less than 190,000 ha to around 226,000 ha in 2020. This has increased the demand for seed in both traditional mixed farming or livestock-based maize growing areas as well as arable regions now growing maize for biogas.
Select varieties carefully
Whether maize is being grown for silage to feed livestock, biogas production or grain, the list of varieties is extensive, making selection challenging. Mr Brundle therefore picks out a few key choices that have performed consistently over recent years.
Perez and Duxxbury are both very early maturing varieties (FAO 160) that manage to combine this with high yields and good quality, suiting growers wanting an early harvest.
Among the early maturing varieties (FAO 170-190), P7326 was the best-selling Hutchinsons variety in 2020, given its suitability to maritime climates, and flexibility to grow on less favourable sites where heat is limiting, as well as favourable sites when early harvest is required.
Prospect is one of the top early varieties on the BSPB/NIAB List for dry matter yield at 103%. The combination of high starch and the highest cell wall digestibility of any early variety, helps Prospect be one of the highest ME yielding varieties on the list.
Autens delivers consistent bulk dry matter and higher grain content for added starch percentage, making it suitable for grain, silage and biogas production. P7034 also suits all three end uses and continues to grow in popularity. Ambition, Glory and Agiraxx remain popular.
Among the intermediate maturing varieties (FAO 200-220), Mr Brundle picks P7524 for its early vigour and high yield, Movanna for its good agronomics and standing power, and Keops for its wide drilling window and flexibility of use. P7948 was introduced in 2020 and looks an exciting prospect for the AD sector.
Of the late maturing varieties (FAO 230-250), Indexx continues to be Hutchinsons’ best-selling late biogas variety, particularly suited to the east, while P8200 is a large stature hybrid that performs well on favourable sites in the open, or a wide range of sites under film. Amaroc has proven popular and consistent.
Seed treatment changes
Following the revocation of Mesurol (methiocarb) in 2020, Korit was used extensively last season as an effective bird repellent.
In 2021 Korit (Ziram 420 g/l) will be used in conjunction with the fungicide Redigo M (prothioconazole + metalaxyl), by many suppliers. Trace elements and growth promotion products are also being offered by some suppliers to improve establishment, notes Mr Brundle.
Sonido (thiacloprid) can no longer be used for wireworm control and will be replaced with Force (tefluthrin).
Download the full Hutchinsons maize seed portfolio at www.hlhltd.co.uk/products/seed or contact the experienced seed team on 01526 832771 or [email protected] to discuss the best variety choices for your farm next season.
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