Wednesday, 18 September 2019 13:55

Getting ready for maize planting

Written by  Ian Williams, Pioneer forage and farm system specialist

Follow these seven steps to ensure you plan for maize planting as well as you can.

A proverb written 3000 years ago says something like ‘He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap’.

In other words, if you are the kind of person who always looks for the perfect scenario before you act then you will likely never get anything done. This is especially true of farming. 

It is very rare, given our variable climate, to get the timing perfect to do a particular task perfectly. What makes the chance of getting things most right, more often, is planning. And part of planning is communicating. 

As I have written before, my wife and I grow maize silage each year which we sell to a local dairy farmer. Our soil type can be challenging. It is wet in winter and dry in summer. Our planting window is relatively short and so we need to be well planned. We also need to communicate with everyone else in the process to make sure they do their bit when they need to do it. 

Here are the steps we take now to ensure we plan for planting as well as we can:

Step 1. Decide the area to be planted. Ideally this will already have been done, but if not work it out now. If you have hard-to-kill weeds, get your merchant out and talk to him about what spray to use. 

If the ground still needs to be drained, perhaps choose another area to plant your maize and do the drainage next autumn to get the area ready for planting next spring. 

Also, get the maize contractor to come and look at the area you want to plant. He will tell you whether he can plant it and whether he can get through gates, cart material down races, stack it where you want it, etc.

Step 2. Have a realistic expectation of yields. This is important because it drives things like what hybrid you use, what seeding rate you plant at and how much fertiliser you use. 

If you are unsure of what your area is likely to yield, contact your local merchant. If he is experienced he will have a good idea. If he is inexperienced he will be able to get someone who is to come and have a look for you. 

Seeding rate and fertiliser rate are very dependent on soil and environment. Generally, the lower the yield potential of your soil, the less seed and less fertiliser you want to use.

Step 4. Order the seed. We have already done this as part of Pioneer’s early order programme, but if you haven’t, call your seed seller now and get your order in to ensure you get your seed on time.

Step 5. Communicate with your contractors and let them know when you want your cultivation, spraying and fertiliser spreading done. We are talking to our contractor now to make sure we are in the queue and they can put our farm into their work programme.

Step 6. Do a soil test to make sure you apply the right amount of fertiliser to your crop. Regulations on nutrient loss from farms are tightening. Applying the right amount of fertiliser to get a good crop of maize silage, while at the same time reducing the risk of nutrient loss, is a no brainer. Wasted nutrients mean lost income and a damaged environment -- something no-one wants.

Step 7. Organise the stock rotation to ensure that any feed is removed with enough time left for the paddock to freshen up before it is sprayed out.

While it is true that life happens, we have found scheduling and communicating our plans with all affected parties ensure that despite the weather we tend to get our crop in the ground within our desired planting window. This gives us the best opportunity to ensure we optimise our yields.

Happy planting.

• Ian Williams is a Pioneer forage and farm system specialist. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

More like this

Maize moisture in a moment

With forage maize playing such an important part of the New Zealand fodder supply chain, a useful hand-held moisture measuring device might prove useful for making good management decisions.

Time to rethink

Pioneer forage specialist, Ian Williams on how farmers can manage feed and animals as they move into winter.



Stop making decisions for farmers

OPINION: From my observations of general media reporting it seems that in today’s world no one wants to take responsibility for their actions.


Effluent expo canned

The Effluent & Environment Expo, scheduled for early November in Hamilton, has been cancelled.

Fonterra back in the black

Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says 2019/20 was a good year for the co-op, with profit up, debt down and…

Machinery & Products

Clear cut fodder

CLAAS Harvest Centre product manager, Luke Wheeler, says the end goal should always be the starting point when making purchasing…

Good mower an essential tool

Third-generation dairy farmers Hayden and Tania Edmeades run 500 dairy cows and associated young stock over 190ha near Putararu in…

Mowers get a makeover

Well known throughout New Zealand over the past 18 years, Pottinger has redesigned its rear-mounted Novadisc mowers to incorporate a…

Hardy spotlight

High quality, reliable lighting is essential for anyone involved in agriculture or the great outdoors.

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

Milking It

Eyes have it

OPINION: Painting eyes on the backsides of cows could save their lives, according to new research by Australian scientists.

Walkers versus cows

OPINION: A North Yorkshire teacher has become at least the second member of the public to be trampled to death…

» Connect with Dairy News

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter