Growing maize in the south west of Scotland

Growing maize in south west Scotland - Peter Richardson – Agrovista Agronomist

Growing forage maize in the far South West of Scotland on the face of it sounds like a strange thing to do and coming from Hertfordshire nearly 10 years ago I would have agreed. It becomes even more strange when the vast majority is grown conventionally, this just means not established under plastic film, In more marginal climates such as Lancashire and Cumbria, growing under plastic is a must. Gulf Stream to the rescue! The Gulf Stream does a great job in parts of the far South West of Scotland in terms of protection and bringing up temperatures, to make it possible for some plants species to be able to be grown this far North. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t ideal for growing maize, like parts of the South of England, and conventional maize here, I would still describe as marginal. However, the draw of growing high-quality forage for dairy or beef cattle, with the high levels of starch and energy, mean for some growers with favourable coastal fields to offer, crop is being produced here.

The high quality of maize silage can only be achieved by the cob and plant getting to full maturity. This is very important indeed. So, it comes down to variety selection. We need and should opt for an ultra-early variety. This means less days required for the plant to reach maturity. We cannot entertain later varieties here. It does get tried though, as later varieties tend to produce more bulk and thus fresh yield. Unfortunately using later varieties here makes a job that is marginal even more marginal so is a real gamble because if the plant doesn’t finish, the quality isn’t there, and in a bad year may make the silage almost unusable too. So, we need a variety that is a true ultra-early, but can also deliver respectable yields. To that effect I recommend KWS Cito to all my growers, as it does exactly that, with a huge cob, and is the clear leader in the category. I have been getting some excellent results with KWS Cito the last 3 years and was also with its predecessor Ramirez.

The other things that we have in abundance in the area is organic manure and rain. This equals weeds like I have never seen before in my agronomist career. As any maize grower will tell you. The effect of poor weed control, and indeed any other form of stress or competition to maize, can be devastating. I will always add Equilibrium with the weed control mix, to reduce stress and encourage rooting, as every advantage you can give to the crop over and above normal soil nutrient supply, makes a difference at this point. Equilibrium is a combination of amino acids and concentrated seaweed extract.