Graham Parnell, Limagrain Seed Sales Specialist in the South West, says that while maturity class must still be the primary selection criterion, it is then vital to focus on varieties delivering the highest quality forage to ensure maize supplies the maximum benefit in terms of reducing feed costs.
“Whether you are on a marginal or good growing area, the first decision is to look only at varieties suited to your farm. We recommend farmers look to grow early maturing varieties with good early vigour. This means they will get away quickly and will be ready to harvest earlier, reducing the risk of a delayed harvest and improving the chances of harvesting in good conditions.”
From a shortlist of agronomically suitable varieties, the emphasis then has to be on selecting the varieties that will produce the best yields of high quality forage to drive milk production.
“The top varieties on the Descriptive List can supply sufficient energy to produce around 600 litres more per hectare compared to the average variety. This equates to a concentrate saving of around £65/ha, for little or no extra growing costs.”
Mr Parnell advises considering the feed value of the whole plant, not just starch content. He says 50% of the energy is in the vegetative parts of the plant and 50% in the cob. To maximise milk production he stresses the importance of selecting varieties with high cell wall digestibility (CWD) which means more of the total energy is available.
“Farmers should consider starch content, CWD and energy yield when refining their initial variety shortlist.
“To simplify a farmer’s choice, our Limagrain Animal Nutrition (LGAN) varieties are evaluated for all the key parameters affecting nutritional value, namely starch content and yield, ME content, and yield, CWD, dry matter yield, dry matter percent at harvest and early vigour.
“LGAN accredited varieties such as Glory and Ambition have been grown successfully across the south west for several years and are proven to deliver a high quality feed, while new varieties like Reason, Wizard and Pinnacle are going to give them a run for their money this year. Choosing LGAN is your assurance of a variety with strong agronomy and exceptional milk yield potential. What more do you need?”