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Twelve new forage maize varieties have been added to the British Society of Plant Breeder’s descriptive lists for 2024. The lists describe the performance... Top maize variety selection for 2024 growing season

Twelve new forage maize varieties have been added to the British Society of Plant Breeder’s descriptive lists for 2024.

The lists describe the performance of different maize varieties across a range of locations. Sites are classified according to different factors – including length of growing season and spring soil temperatures.

Seven new entrants are on the Favourable First Choice list for sites with the longest growing season and warmer spring soils for early establishment. They are Skipper and Foxtrot (both Limagrain); Faith, Emeleen, Crosbey and ES Palladium (Grainseed); and SY Silverbull (Syngenta).

Five new entrants have been added to Favourable Second Choice list for the same site types. They are RGT Easixx and RGT Bluefoxx (both RAGT), KWS Resolvo (KWS), Glencoe and LG31207 (both Limagrain).

Less favourable sites

Three varieties – Skipper, Faith and SY Silverbull – also feature on the Less Favourable First Choice list for sites with shorter, cooler growing seasons. The Less Favourable Second Choice list includes Foxtrot, RGT Easixx, RGT Bluefoxx and KWS Resolvo.

Meanwhile, LG31207 has been added to the Very Favourable list for sites with a long growing season and very favourable conditions suitable for later maturing varieties with high yield potential to maximise output as a feedstock for anaerobic digesters.

Of the new earlier maturing varieties, BSPB variety trials co-ordinator Jeremy Widdowson says Faith is the highest yielding on the Favourable site list. It achieved a dry matter yield of 19t/ha, with a metabolisable energy (ME) of 222kMJ/ha and starch at 6.47t/ha.

Not far behind is Skipper with a DM yield of 18.8t/ha, ME of 221kMJ/ha and starch at 6.74t/ha. 

Then came Foxtrot with a DM yield of 18.7t/ha, ME of 222 kMJ/ha and starch at 6.54t/ha. 

Based on limited data, all three varieties show some susceptibility to eyespot, so may be less suitable in damper growing conditions. ES Palladium is the highest DM yielding of the later maturity varieties at 19.4t/ha and ME of 223 kMJ/ha.

On Less Favourable sites, Skipper, Foxtrot and RGT Easixx sit just behind Faith, yielding 18.5t/ha at 35.2% DM with good early vigour and starch at 6.62t/ha. Based on limited data, SY Silverbull has an eyespot rating of 6.1 – the highest of the new varieties for this List.

The single variety added to the Very Favourable site list – LG31207 – has good early vigour and good standing power with a dry matter yield of 18.7t/ha. It also has a good ME yield, which is an important factor for achieving high biogas yields.

The forage maize descriptive lists for 2024 are available for download from the BSPB website at www.bspb.co.uk.

About the maize lists

Independent trials for forage maize varieties are organised by the British Society of Plant Breeder’s forage maize crop group.

This helps meet the legal requirement that all maize varieties sold in the UK must be tested in UK growing conditions and accepted on the UK national list – with a minimum of two years of robust trials data from six locations across England.

Only UK national list varieties can be entered into the descriptive list trials programme and can be published after an additional year of trials across nine sites. The forage maize descriptive list helps growers select the most appropriate variety for their location.

The list is reviewed annually by a panel of farmers, breeders, nutritionists and agronomists, ensuring rigorous, independent evaluation of the varieties to support the resilience of forage systems within the changeable UK climate.

Parameters include dry matter yield and ME yield as well as starch percentage and cell wall digestibility. Scores for early vigour, standing power and eyespot resistance are useful for sites with more challenging growing conditions and a high risk of lodging or eyespot.

Trials are carried out by NIAB and plant breeders under contract to BSPB. All trials are independently inspected to ensure compliance with protocol and high standards of trialling and the data are independently verified and analysed by NIAB.