For a number of seasons now maize and sorghum, either as a mix or straight crops, have been the mainstay of most people’s cover crops. The development in varieties within both crops and particularly the ability to choose your height for sorghum has made them very popular. However, there have been some difficulties in previous seasons, particularly with the sorghum crop. In recognition of this, please find listed below a brief summary of the basic guidelines for both maize and sorghum. Should you require some more detailed maize information, we have produced a guide which is available on request. Gamecover Maize Wherever possible always plough for the new crop. Maize eyespot can be a serious problem given the right conditions and ploughing down the old crop residue as soon as possible will help to minimise disease carry over. Maize is very sensitive to pH; if it is below 6 then this needs to be addressed. A soil test should be carried out if unsure. Seedbeds need to be worked to produce 6 inches of tilth and be compaction free. To ensure good seed to soil contact, roll if necessary after drilling. Maize needs a consistent soil temperature of 8 degrees to grow properly.When making the decision to drill, please ensure that the risk of frost is past which usually means from early May onwards. Please ensure to sow at the correct depth. Seed rate is also important as reducing this can have a positive impact upon standing ability. If grown with other crops, it is best to drill the elements separately ensuring that each one is at the correct depth, which may mean drilling twice. Always use seed dressed with Mesurol. Plan your herbicide programmes before you sow your crop, taking into account any known problems or limitations if the maize is to be sown as part of a mixture. Sown as a straight crop, maize presents a good opportunity to use some very strong weed control options. Sorghum Sorghum shares the same tillage requirements as maize and is equally as sensitive to pH but there are some very important differences. Sorghum requires a consistent soil temperature of 14-15 degrees, which is a lot higher than maize. It is a very common mistake to sow the crop before these temperatures are reached. In a typical year, this probably will not be until early June. Correct drilling depth is also critical, again taking mixture requirements into account. Herbicide programmes within the sorghum crop require some extra thought as grass weed control is not possible. If there are any known grass weed problems and the crop is still to be sown, effective use of a stale seedbed is vital. In some cases choosing a different product may be the best option for controlling weeds.
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