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Do your planning in quiet times

May 2016

The period after harvesting is often regarded as a dead period on the grain farmer’s farm. Yet this is the perfect time to sit behind your desk and do proper planning for the next season.

Grain cultivation is a cyclic process. When one season ends, the next is already in its infancy. That is why anything that happens in the fields after the harvest has an impact on the outcome of the next season.

In the process of preparing your fields for the next season after you have harvested, moisture preservation is your main priority. Controlling weeds should be attended to first. It is important to keep the fields clear of weeds and increaser plants. Weeds in the fields after the harvest not only create a seed bank, but also deplete the valuable moisture reserves that are available for the next season.

This is also the ideal time to make sure that all implements and tractors are in good working order. Calibrate implements that have not been used for a while, like your planters and sprays, so that they are ready when you start planting for the next season.

Like every season is unique, every field is also unique. Information from previous seasons is very important for planning for the next season.Study the yields realised in every field over the past few years in detail and determine how certain decisions regarding cultivar, weed control programmes, fertilisation, plant density and tillage could have affected the yield. Soil analyses to determine the nutritional status and fertility of your fields can also be done now. Well-thought-out planning is the basis for any successful production season.

Sometimes the grain price forces maize farmers to think hard about plantings for the next season, and farmers sometimes have to consider other alternatives. One of the options is to market maize via stock by making and utilising maize silage. Key management practices for the effective and profitable production of silage include:

  • Choice of the hybrid.
  • Timeous harvesting.
  • Remember that there is a fine line with respect to the choice between yield and the quality of the grain.
  • Planting date.
  • Higher plant populations than for grain production.
  • Cutting height.
  • Soil quality.
  • Narrower row spacing can increase yield.
  • Insect and weed control.
  • Crop rotation.

New cultivars

Monsanto has released ten new DEKALB maize cultivars – two white and eight yellow – with increased yield potential. The new cultivars are:

DKC76-61B and DKC63-53.

DKC68-58BR, DKC68-56R, DKC71-44B, DKC71-42, DKC74-74BR, DKC74-26R, DKC65-52BR and DKC64-54BR.

Some of the outstanding properties of the cultivars are:

  • New genetics with excellent yield potential.
  • Wide adaptability.
  • Stable performance across different conditions.
  • Rapid drying.
  • Good grain quality.
  • Good disease-tolerance package.
  • Good standability.
  • Multiple ears.

DKC63-53, DKC65-52BR and DKC64-54BR are ultra-short growing season cultivars that are specifically suitable for full irrigation, with a plant establishment of about 80 000 plants/ha.

Now is the ideal time to contact input providers like your DEKALB seed representative or broker to talk about your choice of package and to look at new cultivars and seed treatments and how these can fit into your planning for the next season’s plantings.

Article submitted by Magda du Toit, Corporate Communication Manager, Monsanto South Africa.
For more information, send an email to

Publication: May 2016

Section: Pula/Imvula