Maize is a very high yielding forage crop that has the potential to produce high quality livestock feed. Although weather dependant, it is a relatively easy crop to grow once you have a good site and fertile soil.
The ideal maize field will be well sheltered, warm with good deep soil, south facing, well drained and less than 100m over sea level. As the site moves away from this ideal field you need to use earlier maturing varieties or consider using plastic
Maize can be grown continuously in the same field. Weed control costs tend to increase and fungal disease attacks becomes more likely with continuous maize cropping.
A deep fine and firm seedbed is required for fast and uniform germination.
Not too early and not too late. Maize is a slow starter and needs good growing conditions so wait until soil temperatures are over 8°C. It also needs every day of the Irish growing season to produce good yields of high quality silage so don’t delay sowing.
Sow from 15th April on good warm sites. Best crops will generally come from sowings done before 10th May. With Plastic: Sow from April 5th on good sites and best response from plastic will generally be achieved from sowings before April 25th.
Seeds are precision drilled usually in 75cm rows and at 4-6cm depth. Sow at 100,000 – 110,000 seeds per ha (40,000 – 44,000 seeds per acre). Later maturing varieties will benefit from the lower seed rates, starch levels and dry matter % will be improved.
Maize needs a pH level of 6.0 – 7.0 and soil analysis should be carried out before each crop.
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Maize Crop Management NPK can be applied as organic (slurry or FYM ploughed down) or chemical fertilizer. Nitrogen fertilizer is best applied prior to the last cultivation. Top dressing N after emergence should be avoided as it can cause crop scorch. It is recommended when sowing maize to combine drill a Phosphorus fertilizer, and possibly some Nitrogen and trace elements.
Disease is not generally a widespread problem in maize. However in wet seasons and particularly in coastal areas a disease called Kabatiella (commonly know as eyespot) can cause premature senescence of the leaves. “Eyespot” spores can be carried over on maize trash or stubble from the previous year. A fungicide can be applied preventatively before the maize crop gets too tall to drive through and this lessens the severity of the disease.