Maize variety selection pointers

Maize can be a challenging crop to grow. Choosing the wrong variety for the soil type and altitude can prove costly in terms of maximising feed value. For the best returns, producers should select varieties based on maximising dry-matter yields and nutritional feeding qualities, provided by the starch content and cell wall digestibility. Maximising yield and quality will spread the fixed costs of growing the crop.

JD SPFH Maize - ForFarmers UK

Variety selection also impacts when the crop will mature and be ready for harvest. There can be up to 30 days difference in harvest date from selecting an ultra-early (FAO 150-160) variety compared to a late (FAO 220-260).

Before reviewing the latest maize descriptive list it is crucial to assess maize crop results from this season and the previous one. Many maize crops were impacted by this year’s drought, but did those that grew and matured well produce the required dry matter and starch?

Look at soil type, altitude, as well as the aspect and slope of fields where maize is to be grown to ensure that the variety selected will mature at a reasonable time of year, particularly where sowing followon crops is planned.

Selecting varieties with early vigour, and those that cope well with challenges such as excessively dry or cold weather, will help, but the crop must also mature in time for harvest. Looking at later maturing varieties to improve yield can have an adverse effect on maize silage starch levels.

To ensure the most suitable variety is selected, for each farm and ration requirements, ordering seed early will help avoid disappointment or producers having to opt for a second-choice variety.

Review silage analyses and feeding requirements with the herd’s nutritionist and then match the required variety to field soil type and altitude.