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Maize: A Proven Spring Crop Option for UK Farmers

Ben Lowe - National Forage Product Manager

T: 07966 533 374

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As UK farmers explore options for spring crops, one choice that stands out is maize. With its versatility, nutritional benefits, and adaptability to varying soil types and farming systems, maize offers promising opportunities for agricultural success.

In this article, we will delve into the potential of maize as a spring crop option for UK farmers, backed by relevant statistics and insights from breeders and our own independent trials network

Maize: A Nutritional Powerhouse

Maize has gained recognition for its remarkable nutritional value.
For livestock and AD production, maize silage serves as an excellent component within diets, providing high quality starch, energy, and nutrients. Modern varieties have the ability to produce in excess of 19 Tonnes of DM per Ha, making maize an ideal choice for Dairy, Beef and BioGas systems

Adaptability and Potential

One of the major advantages of maize as a spring crop is its suitability within rotations and varying farming systems.

Maize is a spring sown option, provides a break crop within rotations and can either be harvested for Silage or Combined for Grain.

With appropriate agronomic practices, varieties such as LG Gema, KWS Leto, KWS Pasco, LG Harmony, and LG Resolute, developed by leading breeders, have showcased significant advances within the Early maturing sector of varieties.

Varieties such as these have been carefully selected as part of our leading portfolio of varieties for UK growers, ensuring farmers have access to the best options for their specific needs.

Key Varieties this Spring


“When it comes to achieving exceptional yields and quality from a short growing season, Gema breaks the existing and dated mould of Ultra Early varieties for the UK. Gema offers an exceptionally early harvest but without paying the significant price in overall yield. This variety is real game changer for spreading harvest dates across large areas, later drilling dates or producing a reliable crop within marginal regions. Unlike traditional Ultra Early varieties, Gema will mature naturally with stay green traits, ensuring more flexibility at harvest.”



“Pasco sets a new standard in maize cultivation, delivering leading overall yields and incredible quality for livestock or AD. Pasco has quickly become a firm favourite with growers throughout the UK who are looking to maintain yield and quality, but from an earlier harvest date. Pasco performs at the same level as varieties that would usually be harvested 2 weeks later. This ensures growers are able to establish a following crop and mitigate negative impacts to soil health. As a sound agronomic package, Pasco is also well suited to CCM production where required.”

KWS Pasco


“Resolute is the epitome of modern-day Maize varieties for the UK market. Traditionally, later maturing material has been utilised to supply the highest possible overall Yields for UK growers, albeit at a compromise to harvest dates. Regardless of how favourable the region, gaining more from an earlier harvest is the clear direction of travel for maize in the UK. Not only does Resolute match, or indeed exceed, overall yield capacity of existing later varieties, it is able to maintain incredibly high Starch and ME yields at the same time. As the production of maize in the UK begins to adapt to alternative and more sustainable ways, Resolute already holds many of the solutions.”

Agrii Livestock


“Specifically selected from National and Agrii Trials, Leto takes UK growers to another level within the Ultra Early category. With tremendous early vigour and ideal for later drilling dates, shorter growing seasons, or an early harvest to ensure establishment of a following crop, Leto performs at the same level as many later to harvest varieties. Exceptional starch yields ensure very high-quality forage is produced from every Hectare grown, making it ideal for lower inclusion diets within livestock or AD systems.”


"Once again, selected from National and Agrii Trials, Harmony is a very exciting addition to the Agrii portfolio. Displaying a combination of yield, quality, and maturity to harvest which has not been seen to date within the UK. Building upon breeder’s advances within the early sector over the last 5 years, Harmony is another big step forward for UK growers when it comes to the production of the highest quality forage possible in conjunction with environmental and rotational benefits.”


New for 2024, Fortuno is a solid all-round performer and capable of producing high yields of quality forage from an early harvest date.
This flexible variety, with an FAO of 180, is well suited for Livestock or AD production and has regularly outperformed many leading UK varieties within Agrii Trials. If you are looking to grow Maize as an alternative Spring option, Fortuno is an ideal and reliable choice for you!

Environmental Benefits of Maize:

Maize within rotations offers several environmental advantages. Maize is highly efficient in converting sunlight into biomass and energy dense forage, resulting in higher carbon assimilation rates compared to other crops. This makes maize an excellent choice for capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Additionally, maize can also play a vital role in soil conservation, providing an ideal entry for Autumn Cereals, Catch Crops and Cover Crops which prevent erosion during winter months.

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Benefits of undersowing Maize

  • Undersowing maize with a suitable Grass mixture enhances soil health by decreasing erosion, adding organic matter, and increasing nutrient availability.
  • This practice also aids in moisture retention, improving water use efficiency and reducing the need for irrigation.
  • Moreover, it offers benefits to machinery travelling at harvest, additional grazing opportunities for livestock in the autumn months and reduces nitrogen leaching, thereby enhancing water quality and minimizing environmental impact.
  • Undersowing maize with a suitable Grass mixture contributes to a more sustainable and profitable cropping system.

Considerations for Successful Maize Cultivation:

To achieve the best results with maize as a spring crop, there are some key considerations that farmers must keep in mind.

  • Soil Conditions: Maize prefers well-drained, fertile soils with good water-holding capacity. It is important to assess soil conditions, including pH, nutrient levels, and structure, before planting maize.
  • Climate Change: With changing climate conditions, it is essential to select maize varieties that are adapted to the local climate and have good drought tolerance.
  • Spring Cereals and OSR: Maize can be a suitable alternative to spring cereals and OSR, providing farmers with a viable option for crop rotation, break crop requirements and reducing disease pressure.
  • Nitrogen Use Efficiency: Maize is an incredibly efficient crop when it comes to nutritional requirements with most of its needs be able to come from FYM alone.
  • When drilling, it is important to consider soil temperatures, with 6 degrees Celsius for at least 6 consecutive days being optimal for light soils and 10 degrees Celsius for at least 6 consecutive days being optimal for heavier soils, to ensure the best possible establishment of the crop. These required soil temperatures must also be followed by continued good weather.
  • By taking these key considerations into account, farmers can maximize the potential of maize crops in their spring cropping systems and reap the agronomic and economic benefits that maize cultivation offers.


Maize represents a promising spring sown option for UK farmers seeking higher yields, environmental sustainability, and nutritional benefits for livestock and AD.

With its adaptability, impressive yield potential, and ongoing research and development efforts by companies like Agrii, maize continues to gain popularity in the UK agricultural landscape.

By considering diverse perspectives, implementing best practices, and leveraging the expertise of industry professionals, farmers can tap into the immense potential offered by maize cultivation and secure a prosperous future in sustainable farming.

Investing in Research and Development:

Agrii are at the forefront of research and development in the maize industry. Our dedicated trials help identify the most suitable varieties for UK farmers, ensuring optimal performance and yield.

These trials also serve to highlight the technical support we provide to our growers, ranging from weed control and seed treatments to foliar nutrition and harvest dates. Our commitment to ongoing research empowers farmers with the latest knowledge and strategies to maximize their maize crop's potential.

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