Maize is the first choice summer crop option for diary farmers looking to boost milk production. Maize can offer very high yields of both grain and silage, but to achieve this, its inputs are usually much higher than other crops. The following are important points to be considered when growing a maize crop:
Maize silage crops have a large nutrient requirement to not only grow the crop but because the silage is removed off the paddock, has high level of soil nutrient removal. Nutrients are applied at different stages of the crop and the weekly nutrient requirement of a maize crop is well documented. A 20.8t/ha DM crop of silage removes approximately 272kg of nitrogen, 46kg of phosphorus, 207kg of potassium, 32kg of sulphur and 52kg of magnesium. Typically NPKS nutrients are applied pre planting, N and P included at planting and then N and K applied during the growing stages of the crop. The amount of nutrients applied are also determined by the results of soil test taken prior to planting the crop.
Weeds have a major impact on the yield and performance of the crop. Weed control in a fast healthy crop of maize usually needs to be effective until the crop reaches approximately 1.2 metres high. Regular crop inspections will spot pests in time to set up a control program before major damage takes place. The main insect pests are wireworm, cutworm, black bettle and armyworm.
Soil temperature for maize needs a minimum temperature of 12 degrees and rising. The sowing rate varies depending on seed size. When you order your maize seed you should check the number of seeds per kilogram. Planting depth should be between 3.5 cm and 5 cm. Plant the seed either into moisture or if the soil type is suitable, irrigate. The optimum seedbed is one worked to a firm, fine tilth but not compacted. A precision seeder is required for sowing maize. Precision sowing is recommend.