Concern over maize harvest as crops three weeks behind
Concern is mounting for northern maize growers as harvesting falls up to three weeks behind schedule.
A cooler growing season has delayed the conversion of sugars into starch in the 50,000ac fodder crop.
"Normally 80pc of the energy of the plant is in the cob in the form of starch by harvest time," explained Maizetech's John Foley, which supplies much of the seed and plastic to growers around the country.
"Crops north of the border still have white cobs, which worries me, because if most of the sugars in the plant are still in the stem and leaves it is very vulnerable to loss either before or after harvesting," he said.
Most farmers are banking on the fine weather of the last week to allow the crop be fit for harvesting.
"This has been an exceptional week with cob drymatter increasing by 1pc daily in many cases," said Mr Foley.
However, he warned farmers not to leave the crop standing in fields too much longer.
"Every frost-free night after mid October is a bonus. If a heavy frost from now on kills leaves around the cob my recommendation is to get that crop in the pit within five days."