It’s not too late to rule out growing maize this season…

We often joke, don’t we? - about how the British always talk about the weather. But after months of relentless rainfall, it’s a more dominant topic than ever, especially within the farming community. Across the UK, where winter cereals have failed in waterlogged fields, the land has stayed too wet to be reworked and the few brief dry days are quickly followed by more rain. This means for many growers, the cropping options for their land are very limited - spring barley? SFI’s? Grow more maize?

Or maybe even start growing maize?

It is no secret that maize is becoming an increasingly popular crop in the UK. Whether for forage, biogas and even maize grain - the maize acreage is increasing. Historically, we have seen the bulk of the UK’s forage maize grown in the more favourable conditions of the South. However, in recent years we have seen an increasing popularity for growing forage maize in the marginal areas of the North.

As little as 10 years ago, there were very few early-maturing, cold tolerant hybrids that were able to deliver on yield and starch when grown in marginal areas. Luckily for growers in more challenging areas, advancements in genetics have allowed breeders to develop cold tolerant hybrids that are increasingly well adapted to marginal conditions. Pioneer P7326 and P7034 are both excellent examples of early-maturing hybrids that are being successfully grown both in the open and under film across Northern England and into southern areas of Scotland.

All Pioneer hybrids are rigorously tested across the UK in the Pioneer Accurate Crop Testing System (PACTs). The data from these trials is collated and shared with our customers via the PACTs book. This is a valuable tool for hybrid selection and allows growers to choose which hybrids will be best suited to their location and system. The PACTs book provides detailed information on all our commercial hybrids including multi-year and multi-site data showing starch and dry matter yield, how Pioneer varieties score for disease resistance, suitability for marginal lands and soil type. You can access this information by following this link (PACTs Results 2024/25). Contact me at the email address below to request a hard copy.

Despite the current weather situation, the North has experienced some exceptionally good maize growing years, which has certainly led to its increasing popularity.  More and more livestock farmers are finding the benefits of growing maize very attractive, and what I generally see is new maize growers starting with around 20 acres or so for the first year, reaping the benefits and increasing the acreage the following year. For livestock producers, maize is a nutritionally beneficial crop to include in rotations.  Maize silage has a very high starch content, and when fed with good quality grass silage, provides a good source of energy and protein. Producing quality home grown forages is a great opportunity to help improve farm profits, especially in the face of rising costs, and reduce the need to feed expensive concentrates.

So if growing maize is something of interest to you, why not get in touch?