Maize is a high-yielding, home-grown, high-energy feed

Maize is a high-yielding, home-grown, high-energy feed. Often described as a more consistent and cost-effective winter feed compared to a 2 or 3-cut silage system a decent crop of maize represents excellent value for money. It is also less expansive to harvest and transport. It responds well to organic manure and maize ground is the perfect home for slurry and farmyard manure.

Maize is an excellent break crop in a tillage system with later spring sowings allowing
harvest in time for drilling of winter crops. While most maize is grown by livestock farmers, there is a growing market for maize produced by growers for sale to livestock farmers. As a feed maize has been shown to increase animal intakes and increase animal

  • Milk yield
  • Live-weight gain
  • Kill-out%

In the Irish climate, most of the maize is grown in the south and east of the country.
However, advances in breeding and earlier maturing varieties are making maize more
accessible across the country.

Open versus covered sowing

The area of open-sown maize is growing year on year in Ireland. There a two main reasons
for this:

1. The cost of the new biodegradable maize film adds around €600 to the cost of growing a hectare of maize.

2. There have been significant breeding gains in open maize varieties. Yields of open
sown varieties have improved greatly and when the correct varieties are chosen based on field location and maturity we see no real difference in the yield and quality of an open crop compared to a crop grown under plastic.

In terms of crop management there is very little difference between growing open-sown and covered maize. Fertiliser and chemical rates are similar although timings may differ. In fact, it is often the case that weed control is more effective in open-sown maize crops as the weeds are not protected by plastic film.

At DLF we have shifted our focus and are sowing more and more open varieties in our
variety evaluation trials in Faithlegg Co. Waterford. The range of varieties in DLF’s open
portfolio means there is a variety to suit most growers based on local growing conditions an system requirements.

DLF Maize Varieties

Konfluens Open Sowing/Medium Maturing

  • New and in demand!
  • Konfluens has excellent yield potential with good starch and dry
  • matter content.
  • Has performed very well on farm and is fast becoming a favourite
  • among farmers.

Resolute Open Sowing/Late Maturing

  • A top performer in Irish trials.
  • Resolute delivers huge yields on farm without expensive plastic.
  • Ideal option for farmers looking to move away from plastic.

Prospect Open Sowing/Early Maturing

  • Fast establishing with excellent standing power.
  • Very early maturing making it suitable to a wide range of sites around
  • the country.
  • Combines highly digestible fibre with high starch content to produce a
  • top-quality feed.

Severus Open Sowing/Early Maturing

  • Ireland’s most popular open maize variety.
  • Excellent early vigour with a very high starch content.
  • Consistent performance for those looking for an early maturing variety.

Choosing the correct variety for your site can help produce a good crop of quality winter
feed. Check out our variety guide in the video below or call Ned Kehoe (087 398 0053) for details.

Maize and Beans

In 2023 we established some intercropping trials around the country. We mixed Prospect
maize with a mixture of different varieties of climbing beans. We are now well aware of the benefits of adding legumes to ryegrass mixtures, so what happens if we add a legume to a different grass!? Some of the possible benefits include;


  • Increased protein in maize silage
  • Greater DM yields
  • Reduced N fertiliser requirement
  • Better ground cover – less weeds
  • Reduced risk of soil erosion
  • Increased biodiversity

Our initial trials were set up to look at protein content in maize silage. Stay tuned to our
social media channels for results in early 2024. If you would like to try intercropping maize and beans this coming season then give one of the team a call for more details.

Annual Silage Crops

Below are some short-term grass options. These crops establish fast and produce a lot of forage in a short space of time. They can provide a big boost to winter forage stocks.

Arable Silage

Arable Silage is a popular option for farmers looking to increase their winter forage stocks with a home-produced crop that provides both protein and energy in the diet. This is a cost-effective forage solution that produces high yields of quality feed just 10-12 weeks from sowing. DLF’s Arable silage mixture is made with 60% Barley and 40% Peas.

Westerwold Ryegrass

Westerwolds is the highest yielding ryegrass species producing a massive silage crop just 12 weeks from sowing. It has strong winter growth so is commonly sown between maize crops where it can be zero-grazed, grazed or baled before the next maize sowing. Westerwolds will produce seed in its first year so care must be taken to avoid unwanted seedheads.

Forage Rye

Forage Rye is another winter hardy option for late sowing into October and even November. It can be grazed in early spring or allowed bulk up for an early silage crop before sowing maize or grass in April or May.