An amazing year for Norfolk maize...

A previous Richard Hirst maze creation

A previous Richard Hirst maze creation

Warm weather, strong sunshine and plenty of rain have added up to a fantastic year for growing maize.

The conditions have been welcomed by both commercial growers such as Oliver Arnold, of Spring Farm, Felthorpe and farmers such as Richard Hirst, based near Great Yarmouth, who turn the crop into maize maze visitor attractions. Agronomists are optimistic for high maize yields this year as a result of warm seedbeds, good weed control and plenty of sunlight.

Across most of the country agronomists report a relatively trouble-free season; the majority of crops got off to a good start and are putting on robust growth as good growing conditions continue.

'In comparison with last year, we could see yields up by 5-10pc,' said Norfolk-based agronomist Simon Draper. 'Early drilled crops benefited from the warm weather in early May.'

Mr Arnold, who commercially crops 5,500 acres for biogas and cattle feed, said: 'It has been the pefect year. Maize needs a lot of rain and sunshine and nice temperatures.'

The harvest, which takes place in September and October, could even start a week early, he added.

Mr Hirst, who will be opening his maize maze near Hemsby on July 20, said: 'It is looking very promising in terms of the height we want for the maze.

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'It is where we need to be which was not the case last year when June was cold and miserable.'

The maize, which grows up to 8ft across 10 acres, has become a popular annual attraction for local families as well as holidaymakers.

Other parts of the country have not fared so well with heavier rainfall in the west halting drilling.

Mr Draper said: 'As a result, approximately half of the crops in the south west were sown late but these will catch up given some good weather.'