Maize variety selection for the 2023 growing season

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Nine new varieties have been added to the British Society of Plant Breeder’s 2023 Forage Maize Descriptive Lists (DL), published today.

Saxon and Dignity from Limagrain, alongside KWS Anastasio and KWS Pasco from KWS, are new entrants on the 2023 Favourable First Choice List. Debalto (KWS) and ES Myrdal (Grainseed) have been added to the Favourable Second Choice List. Dignity, Saxon and KWS Pasco also feature on the Less Favourable First Choice List, with Debalto added to the Less Favourable Second Choice List.

Cranberri CS (Grainseed), Smoothi CS and Abrisse, both from Lidea France, have been added to the Very Favourable DL. 

Jeremy Widdowson, BSPB’s Variety Trials Co-ordinator explains that the Favourable DL uses trial data from sites with the longest potential growing season, with warmer spring soils for early establishment. “Trials data from Less Favourable sites show the performance of varieties in shorter, cooler growing seasons. The Very Favourable DL is produced from specific trials sites where breeders choose to test later maturing varieties with highest yield potential and suitable for producers growing to maximise yield as a feedstock for anaerobic digesters where sites have a long growing season and very favourable conditions,” says Mr Widdowson.

Favourable sites DL

NIAB’s forage crop specialist Dr Ellie Sweetman believes that forage maize crops, and DL trials, have faced significant challenges over the past few years; cold springs delaying sowing and testing early vigour, prolonged drought conditions and high temperatures challenging growth, with some high levels of lodging and some very wet conditions delaying harvest.

Of the new varieties Dr Sweetman highlights Saxon as the highest yielding on the Favourable DL at 19.8 t DM/ha, a metabolisable energy (ME) yield of 231 kMJ/ha and starch yield of 6.50 t/ha, but with some susceptibility to eyespot so less suitable in damper growing conditions. “KWS Anastasio is the next highest yielder at 19.6 t DM/ha, an ME yield of 226 kMJ/ha and starch yield of 6.26 t/ha with good standing power and eyespot resistance. And note KWS Pasco, which has the highest starch yield across the entire DL at 6.66 t/ha, plus a yield of 19.3 t DM/ha, good standing power and eyespot resistance,” says Dr Sweetman.

Less Favourable sites

Of the Less Favourable DL varieties, KWS Pasco sits just behind Resolute with a yield of 19.0 t DM/ha at 33.4% DM, starch at 34.6% and very good resistance to eyespot. 

“Dignity and Saxon both yield well at 18.7 and 18.9 t DM/ha respectively, and starch levels at 33.6% and 33.4%, but both have some susceptibility to eyespot. Dignity is the earlier maturing with 35.1% dry matter at time of harvest, Saxon at 34.0%. Both have good early vigour so would be suitable for good quality silage in more challenging growing conditions where fungicides are used to control eyespot,” advises Dr Sweetman.

Very Favourable sites

Of the three varieties added to the Very Favourable DL Smoothi CS is the highest yielding at 19.5 t DM/ha with a good ME yield, good early vigour and good standing power. Abrisse is the earlier maturing at 35.5% at harvest with a yield of 18.6 t DM/ha. Cranberri CS achieved 19.2 t DM/ha at 34.4% dry matter. The ME yield is an important factor for achieving high biogas yields.

The BSPB 2023 Forage Maize Descriptive Lists are available to download from the BSPB and NIAB websites.

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