Con­sid­er­ing feed corn

Cap­i­talise on both mar­kets by grow­ing grit and feed corn this sum­mer

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Grains Feature -

LONG-TIME grit­ting corn grower An­drew Free is con­sid­er­ing feed corn as an­other vi­able in­come stream for his Jun­abee farm, east of War­wick, due to the im­proved va­ri­eties on of­fer and the changes in the feed mar­ket.

Mr Free, who also grows sorghum, cot­ton, mung­beans and wheat at Po­plar Woods with son Ben, has been grow­ing grit corn for many years, sup­ply­ing the nearby mill, De­fi­ance Maize Prod­ucts.

How­ever, af­ter run­ning a corn trial on-farm last sea­son and watch­ing the de­mand for feed grow across the coun­try from the dairy and live­stock in­dus­tries, he is now look­ing at both mar­kets.

“We nor­mally grow grit corn, but what­ever drives our profit mar­gin – that’s what we look for,” he said.

“In the last few years grit corn has been in the range of $300–$350/tonne, and this year feed prices are $100 above that, which is an in­cen­tive to try feed va­ri­eties.

“While feed va­ri­eties don’t usu­ally at­tract a pre­mium, they can quite of­ten achieve 10–15 per cent more yield due to gen­er­ally higher starch con­tent, so you have to do your sums.

“The way the feed mar­ket turned out this year, our in­ten­tion this sea­son is to plant more feed corn.”

Mr Free grew 75ha of corn last sea­son, which was split over two plant­ing times and in­cluded both com­mer­cial crops and sev­eral trial crops.

The early plant be­gan in Novem­ber over 45ha and the later plant be­gan in Jan­uary over 30ha. Va­ri­eties in­cluded PAC 727IT, PAC 440, P1888, Amadeus and Amadeus IT.

He said their grit va­ri­ety of choice is PAC 727IT. Un­for­tu­nately, it and the rest of the early corn was dec­i­mated by the dry and heat.

“We’re pretty big fans of PAC 727IT as far as grit corn goes. I’d have to say it’s my favourite va­ri­ety. In our ex­pe­ri­ence, it has been match­ing feed va­ri­eties for yield, where other grit corns lag way be­hind,” Mr Free said.

“It has ex­cel­lent stress tol­er­ance and re­tains its grain size and qual­ity. Yield is the most im­por­tant fac­tor, fol­lowed by grain qual­ity, and it de­liv­ers for both.

“All of the early crop was wrecked in the heat­wave in Jan­uary. It was cut for silage a month later when we were look­ing at po­ten­tial dis­as­ter. Luck­ily, the later planted corn made it to grain.”

In­cluded in the later planted corn was new grain/silage hy­brid PAC 440, which was the stand-out for the sea­son.

“We har­vested the PAC 440 in July, three weeks be­fore the rest of the field be­cause it was a quick va­ri­ety

(108CRM),” Mr Free said. “The PAC 440 was ex­cep­tional, yield­ing 5.2t/ha, where the next best va­ri­ety yielded 4t/ha.

“If a feed va­ri­ety like

PAC440 comes along and can yield higher, that tends to put the feed mar­ket in a pos­i­tive light for us.”

Mr Free said this sea­son’s crop would con­sist mostly of PAC 727IT and PAC 440.

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

GREAT GRAINS: Jun­abee farmer An­drew Free grows PAC 727IT corn for grit­ting and has added new PAC 440 for feed.

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