East Anglia’s maize harvest could be 15% above average, according to specialists at Grainseed
- Credit: Matthew Usher
East Anglia's maize harvest looks likely to yield 15% above the average this year, according to Eye-based forage specialists Grainseed.
Technical director Neil Groom said producers will need to plan harvest and clamp management carefully to avoid losing valuable feed material due to the extra volume.
'Early harvest results suggest yields could be up 2.5–5.0 tonnes per hectare (1.0-2.0 tonnes per acre) with excellent quality too. Fields look consistent with few poorer patches and there are some really big crops out there,' he said.
'Because of the sheer bulk it could be worth looking at cutting crops at a height of 50cm as opposed to a more conventional 10-15cm.'
Cattle feeding trials have shown this adds to feed values, such as another 1.2% to dry matter, another 1.2% to starch content, and 1.5% to neutral detergent fibre (NDF), adding up to an extra quarter of a litre of milk per cow per day for every kilogram fed, he pointed out.
'These quality improvements will all but make up for the drop in the volume of overall material harvested,' he said.
Cutting the crop higher could also help with storage, said Mr Groom. 'If you don't cut higher you're probably going to have to ag-bag the extra or make a field clamp to accommodate the extra yield, but remember the Environmental Agency will need two weeks' notice before this.
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'You can go higher in existing clamps, but you then face problems with aerobic stability during feed-out if you're not careful and there are considerable safety issues when removing material from high clamps.'
Additives could help to counteract any issues of aerobic stability in extended or temporary storage, he said.