With its potential to produce very high energy yields cheaply, maize has formed the backbone of the Northern European Energy Crop sector for many years and as a result has been the foundation on which the UK market has developed. Although initial experiences of large scale maize production have been mixed, with respect to the variation of actual energy yields achieved, the pivotal role of maize in the AD sector remains valid. As in Germany, UK farmers now understand that realising the potential of maize requires a more sophisticated approach in terms of variety selection, as well as for using a combination of energy crops to balance the rotation, improve security of raw material supply and create a more efficient mix of raw material for use in the digester.
Well coloured, healthy growing maize
Experience has shown that later (by UK standards) maturing maize varieties (FAO 220-260) can produce significantly higher available dry matter yields than earlier maturing (FAO 150-210) forage types. Successfully growing a later maturing energy variety can make a massive difference to the total dry matter produced and hence energy yield, especially when a large area is being grow. Obviously, to choose the most appropriate variety, farmers need to assess their own circumstances in terms of drilling time, geographical location and typical harvest window.