Since April, I have been submitting periodic reports on the progress of our five maize trial sites which are located throughout the west country and with all sites being harvested at some stage during October and the nutritional analysis now to hand, I take great pleasure in offering you an abbreviated report for 2011.

Cornwall Farmers Site, Tregony, near Truro
Due to the proximity of the coast, I have always described this site as being on the marginal side as sea breezes often result in somewhat cooler air temperatures and can end up slowing down cob maturity – which is why we always recommend early material with good conversion of sugar to starch.

Eight varieties were drilled on April 21 and harvested on October, 13. The variety with the highest dry matter percentage of 35.4 per cent is new and will become available in 2013 and is provisionally named Glory – closely followed by Vivacity at 34.6 per cent and Activate at 34.5 per cent - Crescendo and Nimrod being the only two varieties that did not reach 30 per cent DM. Ambition and Vivacity recorded the highest dry matter yields with 5.8 tonnes per acre and 5.7 tonnes respectively.

Ambition had the highest starch percentage at 40.9 with Ambition and Adept recording the highest starch yields.

Ambition recorded the highest ME at 11.5 with Ambition and Vivacity having the highest yield of megajoules and thus potentially, the highest milk output.

Since we first started to use this farm – and grateful thanks is once again extended to the Berridge Family, the first variety to excel was Crescendo which was closely followed by Sapphire, but it really has to be pointed out that good as they were and, in the case of Crescendo, still is, these varieties have been caught up and indeed overtaken by some quite outstanding very early new material.

Mole Valley Farmers Site, Launceston, North Cornwall
This is an intermediate site lying adjacent to the River Tamar and is the second year that Graham and Jill Duke have kindly invited us there for our trials. Our thanks to you both.

Eighteen varieties were drilled on April 22 with harvesting taking place on 21st. October – three varieties being discarded in the meantime having been deemed as unsuitable.

Activate recorded the highest dry matter percentage at 40 per cent closely followed by Yukon at 39.7 per cent. Six varieties were below 30 per cent with Atrium the lowest at 23.7 per cent.

Yukon had by far and away the highest dry matter yield at 10.12 tonnes per acre – significantly ahead of Activate and Ambition which were second and third. Lowest yielders were Kaspian and Kougar.

Activate, Ambition and Yukon all recorded starch percentages in excess of 40 per cent with only Kougar at 29.2 per cent being below the magical 30 per cent level.

Yukon and Activate were the highest starch yielders.

ME’s ranged from 11.7 (Yukon and Ambition) to Kougar at 10.9, with Yukon being way ahead of anything else in terms of megajoule production – at least 10 per cent higher than Activate which came second.

Cornwall Farmers Site, Clawton, Holsworthy
This really is a marginal site due to its altitude and overall exposure to the elements and our thanks is once again offered to farmer Adrian Mitchell.

Nine varieties were drilled on April 18, and harvested on October 22 and although, like everything else, this site enjoyed a quite wonderful spring and early summer, mother nature intervened on a few occasions delivering us an array of eyespot and frost which resulted in whole plant dry matters which are not representative at all i.e. they are far too high and to quote varietal names with individual figures for dry matter would be totally unrealistic. I will, however, go on to report on the nutritional values as they really do have a significance on what you choose for such sites next year with Ambition and Vivacity recording the highest dry matter yields. Ambition and Activate both recorded starch figures in excess of 40 per cent with just NK Mighty being below 30 per cent at 28.7 per cent. Ambition had the highest starch yield.

Activate and Adept both recorded ME’s at 11.7, with Ambition at 11.6 down to NK Mighty at 10.9. Ambition recorded the highest megajoule yield.

Mole Valley Farmers Site, Bridgwater, Somerset
As previously reported, this site is on the Bridgwater levels, is of a peaty loam and quite frankly, has to be one of the best sites in the west country.

Eighteen varieties were drilled on April 26 and harvested on October 11– the material used being within maturity classes 5 and 13 i.e. medium maturity to the very early types.

Kaspian, Kentaurus and Kougar all recorded dry matters in excess of 40 per cent with four varieties disappointingly recording levels below 30 per cent - despite the very favourable site conditions.

Abogan, followed closely by ES Agreement recorded the highest yields of dry matter, but even though they were two of the top three in terms of dry matter percentage, Kentaurus and Kaspian were the lowest yielders.

The top three in terms of dry matter percentage(Kaspian, Kentaurus and Kougar) were also the top three in starch percentage but the top starch yielders were Toccata, Abogan and Ambition.

ME’s ranged from 11.7 (Kentaurus and Yukon) to 10.5 (ES Agreement) with Abogan and ES Agreement being the highest yielders in terms of megajoule production.

I know that I am continually bleating away about the need to grow early/very early varieties – and will continue to do so for the vast majority of our west country sites, but this site is absolutely ideal for the medium earlies where dry matter yield potential can be really maximized and providing the ME is pretty good, the megajoule production can simply be outstanding.

Our grateful thanks is once again extended to Mike Pople and his family.

Mole Valley Farmers Site, Kingston Maurwood College, Dorchester
This site is quite free draining, on a flinty loam, somewhat drought prone and due to its exposure to south westerly winds, tends to be described as being ‘’intermediate’’.

Nineteen varieties were drilled on May 6 and harvested on October 13 – all material used being within maturity classes 5 to 13.

Activate at 35 per cent, followed by Kaspian and Acclaim recorded the highest dry matter percentages with the later maturing varieties Inagua and ES Agreement being the lowest with a total of eleven varieties being below 30 per cent.

Atrium, Ambition and Acclaim were the highest dry matter yielders.

Yukon at 44.1 per cent, ES Arena and Kroft recorded the highest starch percentages with Yukon, ES Arena and Acclaim recording the highest starch yields.

Other than two varieties each recording 10.9, the ME’s on this site were very good with Yukon and ES Arena both recording 11.7 with another five varieties coming in at 11.6 – the highest megajoule producers being Atrium and Acclaim.

Although a number of medium to medium early maturing varieties were included in this trial, the results proved that in a difficult year such as this, it was the new, very early material that proved to be the most successful.

Our grateful thanks is again extended to Kingston Maurwood College.