What did we learn from last year’s maize harvest?

1/10/2020
Silage Clamps

So far this year some early maize varieties are being harvested in the South East while the main harvest across the midlands is still several weeks away.

We thought it would be a good time to reflect now on what we learned from our customers about last year’s maize harvest.

The weather (the rain) stretched harvests to the end of the year and forced may growers to consider their options for moving crops from waterlogged fields. Below are some of the pointers we picked up from them.

Getting stuck

  • When lifting maize from a field which was disintegrating underfoot it was time to look at options like half filling trailers, upgrading or duelling tyres and using tracked vehicles. We know at least one grower that trialled driven axles, maybe they are the way forward? Retrofitting them to your current trailers is an interesting, relatively new idea:

Getting un-stuck

  • A video was share widely of what could have been a fatal accident when a wire towing cable sheared and fired a shackle through the back window of the tractor missing the driver by cm’s. There are better options than chains or cables you might want to consider, for example:

https://www.clark-engineering.com/sectors/logging/logging-ropes/tugger-tow-rope

Mud on roads

  • Elevators or ‘maus’ machines came into their own when moving crops from fields into bulkers keeping tractors in the fields and lorries on the roads.
  • Other options we saw included tipping maize in the field corner from the ‘muddy tractor and trailer’ and reloading it with a 360 into the ‘clean tractor and trailer’ which was on road only duties.
  • On larger scale operations suitable signage and regular road sweeping were essential.

Grain maize – when it was going to be impossible to get a forage harvester onto the field other options were embraced including going for grain maize.

Lighter combines could be used with the conventional header for small areas of maize and grain maize headers for the larger areas. Although there was a total yield loss compared to foraging the quality of the grain maize in the diets of cattle and AD plants was widely reported as excellent.

We even know one enterprising client that bought a second hand combine for the short harvest period.

Silage quality – considering the conditions silage quality held up reasonably well, we’ve have seen some great quality maize in clamps this year.

The biggest impact of the slow and wet harvest was a lower total yield and increased harvesting costs.

Feel free to check out our other blog posts for more advice on storing silage.

If you need any help with your silage clamps, sheeting or anything else please drop us a line on 01787 220560.

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