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Planning maize harvest and follow on crops

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

Forage crops

Although growth of overwinter crops will be relatively slow due to lower temperatures and short day lengths, considerable biomass production is still possible. Yields from overwinter crops can be up to 8t DM/Ha.

When not taken for forage the crops provide valuable organic matter to the field increasing moisture retention and providing improved fertility due to the release of retained nutrients.

Over winter green cover crops deliver environmental benefits including soil retention, wildlife habitat creation and nutrient retention. The reduction in soil loss when compared to bare maize stubbles is important. Phosphate in the soil is typically strongly bound to soil. Soil loss from the field will result in phosphate loss.

If looking for a crop to establish after maize then the choice of species is crucial. Late sowing can be difficult for non-aggressive options.


Aggressive, fast establishing grasses are the best option as they will get away well before winter sets in. Either of these options should be sown before mid October but dependant on weather conditions.


  • Grow in low temperatures
  • Can provide a useful early bite in March or a first cut in mid April
  • Not the most winter hardy

Italian Ryegrass

  • Is a longer term option
  • Give similar yields to Westerwolds
  • Offers the additional benefit of lasting for two years if required. 

Forage rye

  • Forage Rye is very hardy.
  • Can withstand severe frosts.
  • Therefore offers a relatively risk free option as a winter cover.
  • Can be grazed or cut.


  • Winter cereals will establish post maize harvest but this is obviously not an option if the field is to go back into maize.
  • Sowing cereals for wholecrop are an alternative forage option.

For more information

For more information about crops after maize please speak to your local ForFarmers account manager, call 0330 678 1200 or enquire online here.