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After Maize – Sowing Opportunities

Advice from our specialist Advice from our specialist13-9-2019

Maize crops have gained a bad environmental profile. Maize fields must be managed to reduce the risk of soil, nutrient and agrochemical loss to the environment during the winter. Growers must take action to mitigate these issues.

As bare soil is vulnerable to soil erosion and nutrient leaching, planting the correct species is definitely the best way to prepare for winter.

Getting land back into production quickly after maize harvest can be the difference between having a crop for the spring that can be utilised or having expensive land out of production.

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Why grow a catch crop?

  • Forage crop

Although overwinter growth of a crop will be relatively slow due to lower temperatures and short day lengths, considerable biomass production is still possible. Yields from overwinter crops, harvested before the following maize sowing can yield up to 8t DM/Ha. If not taken for forage the crop will provide valuable organic matter increasing moisture retention and providing improved fertility due to the release of retained nutrients.

  • Environmental

Over winter green cover crops deliver environmental benefits including soil retention, wildlife habitat creation and nutrient retention.

  • Timing of crop establishment

Every day that a maize stubble field is left open the greater the risk of nutrient loss. Establishing a crop on the day of maize harvest will ensure reduced loss of soil or nutrients.

Crop Options

Choice of species following maize harvest is crucial. Late sowing can be difficult for non-aggressive options sown at the extremes of their sowing recommendations.

  • Grass - Aggressive, fast establishing grasses are best as they will get away before winter sets in. Suitable options would be Italian or westerwolds if planning on going back into maize
  • Forage Rye - Very hardy and can withstand severe frosts and allows for sowing of maize again.
  • Cereals - Will establish post maize but not suitable if the field is going back into maize.
  • Green Manuring - These crops will improve fertility and health.


For further information on maize, please contact your local ForFarmers Forage Specialist or call us on: 0330 678 1200