Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 21 September 2017

Concern over maize harvest as crops three weeks behind

Contractor Lloyd Forbes and Jason O'Leary, Carrigaline pictured harvesting P7905 & P8200 maize for Neil Sisk. Sown under plastic it yielded 28t/ac. Photo: O'Gorman Photography.
Contractor Lloyd Forbes and Jason O'Leary, Carrigaline pictured harvesting P7905 & P8200 maize for Neil Sisk. Sown under plastic it yielded 28t/ac. Photo: O'Gorman Photography.
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

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."

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Many farmers are also anxious to get the harvest underway to allow winter cereals to be sown before soil conditions deteriorate.

Nutritionists are advising farmers to use absorbants during the pitting process to absorb additional effluent and prevent sugar losses.

"The reality is that most farmers need to get the crop harvested this week, even if it hasn't reached optimum maturity," said Gerry Giggins.

He advises using soya or oat hulls at €150/t at a 10pc rate basis in the pit.

"These are much better than straw because they can take on up to three times their own weight in water and have 90pc of the feed value of barley grain. Straw can only soak up the equivalent of its own weight. Hay and straw also have the additional risk of introducing molds into the pit," he said.

Indo Farming