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Managing your maize for great yield potential

The most critical management decision for maize growers is selecting the appropriate hybrid. To realise maximum yield potential, the hybrid’s characteristics must match the field attributes, such as altitude, latitude, and soil type.

To achieve the highest yields, the following hybrid traits should be considered:

  • High top-end yield potential. Review yield data from comparable environments to identify hybrids with the highest yield potential.
  • Full maturity for the field. Plan to ensure the crop will be planted at the optimal time to ensure the full growing season is utilised.
  • Good emergence under stress. This helps ensure uniform stand establishment and early pollination, which can minimise stress during what can be a critical period.
  • Above-average drought tolerance. In certain areas of the country, and on light soil types, periods of drought are possible. Check out how hybrids have performed in similar scenarios.
  • Resistance to common diseases. Leaf, stalk, and ear diseases disrupt normal plant function, divert plant energy, and reduce standability and yield. Consider resistance to eyespot and fusarium stalk rot.
  • Take care when sowing after grass. Wireworm infestation can reduce plant stands so consider purchasing seed treated with an insecticide, such as ibriditrin, especially if the maize is following an old pasture.
  • Good standability often helps to minimise harvest losses.

A wide range of hybrid maturities from extra early to late are available from NWF Agriculture for the 2023 season. Different hybrids in the range are suitable for forage, biogas and grain.

The following varieties are recommended:

• P7179: A new hybrid for 2023 sowing in the UK. In PACTS trials it has shown itself to now be the earliest maturity hybrid in the range, delivering higher dry matter yields, higher grain yields and higher starch contents for this hybrid maturity.

• P7326: Trials have shown P7326 rapidly achieves 30% dry matter and produces high starch content with good yields. It adapts well to cultivation on less favourable locations where heat is often limiting.

• P7034: The first hybrid of this maturity that has dent type grain and has been bred specifically for the cool maritime locations found in the UK. This hybrid flowers early and produces silage with a very high starch content and starch yield. Due to its faster starch degradation rate, it should be clamped last and fed first, thus smoothing the feeding transition to new crop silage.

• P7948: Suitable for sowing in the open on favourable sites, as well as under film on less favourable sites. P7948 has excellent standing ability and can produce a particularly large stature plant.

• P8171: A very late maturing hybrid. It should be grown only under the most favourable sites in the open where an early harvest is not needed, and a high dry matter yield is sought. Under film it can be grown on favourable sites.

One of the most crucial factors in achieving high maize yields is establishing a population density sufficient to allow hybrids to maximise their yield potential. Historically, population density has been the main driver of yield gain in maize – improvement of corn hybrid genetics for superior stress tolerance has allowed hybrids to be planted at higher plant populations and produce greater yields. Establishing a population density adequate to allow hybrids to maximise their yield potential is one of the most critical factors for achieving high maize yields. Historically, population density has been seen as the primary driver, however, with improvements in hybrid genetics for superior stress tolerance, it has allowed hybrids to be planted at a higher population and produce even great yields. Crop rotation is a highly recommended practice to maintain consistently high maize yields.

This is because rotating crops can help break the damaging cycles of insects and diseases that can decrease crop yields. In addition to crop rotation, achieving the highest maize yield also requires a comprehensive nutrient management plan and soil testing to determine the appropriate levels of phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen in the soil.

For further information on reducing the threat of grass staggers, please call your NWF Sales Specialist or read more on NWF maize seed HERE.

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