Preparation and nutrition required to boost maize yields

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Maize is going to be an attractive crop to plant this year, due to its low input requirements and high feed value.

David Newton, technical manager at Timac Agro UK, advises growers to plan ahead to get the crop off to the best start by ensuring maize is supplied with the right nutrition within a tight window.

“Current market conditions present maize growers with the perfect opportunity to produce a high value cash crop,” says Mr Newton. 

“However, to make sure this is seen in the clamp come autumn, growers can’t rest on their laurels and need to ensure they drill in the right conditions and feed the crop at the right time.

“Maize is a deep-rooting plant, so it needs the best possible seedbed to effectively establish its roots,” says Mr Newton.  

Early establishment

He adds that to give the crop the best chance of early establishment, it is important to ensure the seed is placed in moist soil and drilling depth needs to be adjusted accordingly.

“When drilling maize, the soil temperature should be 10˚C at 10cm deep, to provide a warm environment for the seeds to thrive,” explains Mr Newton. He adds that maize can be drilled into the soil at a depth ranging from 25mm to 100mm. 

“Those with drier soils should aim to drill deeper, whereas wetter soils can afford to be drilled closer to the surface.”

To continue to encourage growth in the first few weeks, he adds it is important to assess the necessary inputs needed for the crop to flourish.

“The nutritional requirements of maize can largely be met by applying a starter fertiliser, such as Physiostart, in conjunction with farm manure to supply essential phosphate and potash, with a top up of nitrogen once the crop is away. Manure should be tested before application to gain an exact understanding of the nutrients that are being applied in order to tailor any further inputs that may be required.

“It’s important to fully understand the needs of the crop; there’s a misconception that maize demands a lot of phosphate in its infancy, but an excessive supply of freely available phosphate too early on can actually hinder root establishment.

“Highest demand is from 8 leaves to tasselling and manure applications can often meet the crops phosphate needs, as nutrients are slowly released throughout the growing season.

“Maize is going to be a highly sought-after crop this year, so I’d encourage all growers to pay attention to detail in the run up to planting and during early establishment to maximise yields,” Mr Newton concludes.

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About Author

Editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer as well as responsibility for the Agronomist and Arable Farmer and Farm Business websites. After 17 years milking cows on the family farm John started writing about agriculture in 1998 and has since written for a variety of publications and has developed a wide circle of contacts within the industry. When not working John is an avid follower of Stoke City.