Forage Crops


Forage Maize

Forage Maize has increased significantly in popularity in both beef and dairy farming situations. It works exceptionally well for Winter Milk Producers who are reliant on producing large volumes of milk from forage. A good maize crop will provide high starch and energy levels in the diet which is crucial for producing beef and milk. Though Maize is very popular due to high production costs and variable weather in recent years the acreage sown with maize in Ireland has varied considerably. 2010 was an excellent year for maize yields which led to high sowing in 2011; however 2011 proved to be a very bad year for maize production with significant reductions in yield.

The following practices are guidelines only and if you require any agronomic advice on the growing of Forage Maize please contact your local Quinns Technical Advisor.


The sowing of Maize can begin when soil temperatures are above 8ºC so sowing dates can vary from year to year. The soil temperature at the time of sowing has a major effect on the rate of crop establishment and thus is probably the most important factor to consider when sowing maize. Crops under plastic are sown from late March onwards however it is best to wait until after mid-April to sow crops in the open.

Prepare a fine, firm seedbed 10-12 cm (4-5 inches) deep similar to that for beet crops. Aim to drill 100-110,000 seeds/ha.


Fertiliser is the main input cost involved in the growing of maize and should be considered carefully before sowing any maize crop.

The following table shows the nutrient requirements in kg/ha to produce a 15t/ha DM

Maize Crop:

Soil Index N P K
1 180 70 250
2 140 50 225
3 110 40 190
4 75 Nil 120

The use of slurry can be very beneficial pre sowing to provide optimum levels of P and K. All fertiliser should be applied pre sowing and it is important to remember kay trace elements such as Zinc and Manganese. Depending on Nutrient requirement and Soil Index use Maize Starter or 18-6-12 pre sowing.


Monitor pests immediately after sowing and up to the four leaf stage. The main pests of Maize are Slugs, Leatherjackets and Wireworms. It is important to monitor crops in the early stages for signs of pest damage.

Weed Control

Teagasc trials have shown yield reductions of up to 50% where weed control has not been carried out properly. It is important to use glyphosate 360g/l before sowing to reduce the overall weed problem.

Plastic Crops:

Apply full rate pendimethalin (PDM) + Calaris 1.5 ltr/ha at

Open Crops:

Apply Calaris @ 1.5ltr/ha

Disease Control


Eyespot in maize has been increasing in recent years especially where crops are grown continuously. Eyespot causes severe defoliation of the crop during July and August and can cause significant reductions in yield if left untreated. Apply Punch C where symptoms are visible in July.

Alternative Forage Crops

The popularity of alternative winter forage crops has increased significantly in recent years as farmers strive to achieve maximum output from each acre of land farmed. Alternative Forage Crops such as Fodder Rape and Kale are increasingly important to provide fodder to beef, sheep and dairy herds during the winter months. These crops may stretch the fodder already saved on farm such as Silage, Hay etc but also ensure that farmland is increasing its output in any calendar year.

Irrespective of Crop choice there are a few Management decisions to consider:

  1. Soil Type
  2. Seedbed
  3. Fertiliser Application
  4. Sowing Date
  5. Sowing Rate
  6. Feeding

If you require any agronomic advice on the growing of alternative forage crops please contact your local Quinns Representative.