“Most farmers appreciate the improvement in dairy cow genetics and the gains to be made in terms of milk yield, milk quality and management traits such as fertility and longevity and invest in the latest genetics available,” comments Richard Camplin from Limagrain UK.
“However, every year we still see a proportion of dairy farmers growing long-established maize varieties, many of which have been around for over 15 years, despite the clear benefits of the newer options on the BSPB/NIAB List.”
Mr Camplin says that over the last 15 years rigorous plant breeding objectives have resulted in significant advances in maize variety performance, with increases in dry matter production and starch content from varieties proven at trial sites across the UK.
“Compared to 2004, the average variety today will produce 2.7t/ha more dry matter and 1.1t/ha more starch. At 11.5MJ/kgDM, the extra dry matter would produce enough energy to produce an additional 5600 litres per hectare. For top varieties like Prospect, Pinnacle, Glory and Gatsby the difference is more pronounced, often producing 1000 litres/ha more than the average variety.
“Selecting new varieties should be a key component of any strategy to increase forage production.”