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Forage crops expert urges growers to delay harvest as long as possible.

Hold out on harvesting maize for as long as you can, says Brendan Paul, forage crops manager with Dalgety.

Premature death in many crops, a casualty of the long, hot dry summer, may have persuaded growers to make an early start on harvest. However, Mr Paul says that there's everything to gain by delaying harvest for a few days yet.

"We've already harvested some of our trials sites and it's clear that yields are down this year. Many crops simply ran out of moisture, leading to a lower cob weight and lower starch percentages," he explains. "The arrival of wetter weather changes the tune, however. Crops that have kept some moisture will show a remarkably quick response to the rain with starch levels increasing accordingly.

"As long as the crop has a green canopy and continues to photosynthesise - for which it needs water and good light - there will be a beneficial effect," Mr Paul says.

"Crops can increase dry matter content by up to 0.5t/acre during September," he says, "so growers can afford to wait until the first week in October before bringing in the harvest."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 19, 2003
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