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NEWS: 2018 Forage Maize and Biogas Maize Descriptive Lists issued by BSPB

04 September 2017

Six new first-choice varieties have been added to the British Society of Plant Breeder’s 2018 Forage Maize Descriptive Lists (DL) issued today, alongside nine new varieties on the Forage Maize for Anaerobic Digestion DLs.

The varieties LG31211 and Gatsby from Limagrain, Autens KWS from KWS, Bonnie and Absalon from Grainseed and Belami CS from Caussade Semences have been added to the Favourable Sites DL. Autens KWS, Bonnie, Gatsby, Absalon and Belami CS were also added as first choice varieties to the Less Favourable DL, aimed at ‘marginal’ growing conditions.

NIAB TAG’s forage crop specialist Dr Joanna Matthews believes all forage maize growers will benefit from the new additions. “They offer outstanding yield potential, ranging from 17.8 up to 18.4 t DM/ha on the DL for favourable sites which, in combination with a highly digestible ensilagable product, are valuable assets for livestock enterprises.”NIAB's Dr Jo Matthews

Top of the DL for dry matter yield LG31211 is a later maturing variety for favourable sites, combining excellent yield potential (18.4 t DM/ha) with a highly digestible cell wall (CWD) score of 59.3% to create a high quality feedstuff. Dr Matthews explains that CWD provides an indication of the quality of the leaf and stem material, which usually constitutes 45-55% of the ensilaged material. “The higher the quality of this material coupled with the starch from the cobs will drive the energy content of the feed deriving a higher metabolisable energy value.”

Gatsby is a good all-rounder with excellent yields for its maturity in all growing conditions, producing high metabolisable energy silage with good standing power scores. Autens KWS is suitable for both favourable and less favourable sites, combining great yield potential for its maturity. “It has a high starch content, which, when combined with its yield, creates one of the highest yielding good starch-rich feedstuff per hectare on the DL,” says Dr Matthews.

Bonnie is suitable for sowing in a broad range of growing conditions and is listed as a first choice variety on the favourable and less favourable lists. “The variety combines a great yield potential with a highly digestible stover which is reflected in one of the highest ME yields on the DL at 208,000 MJ/ha. A high ME value has a higher rate of breakdown within the rumen. Passage time is then higher therefore potentially increasing dry matter intake and animal production levels,” says Dr Matthews.

Absalon features high yield with good starch levels which, when combined with its excellent cell wall digestibility, creates high yielding quality forage for all growing conditions. Belami CS is a later maturing variety on the favourable and less favourable lists. It combines a suite of desirable characters, including high yield potential and good starch levels, to produce a highly digestible feedstuff.

BSPB technical manager Jeremy Widdowson says that, with the pressures of sustaining farming enterprises, it is vital to exploit the genetic potential of the new forage maize cultivars.

“The BSPB Descriptive list trialling system encompasses a range of sites to reflect UK growing conditions. The differing growth potential of these sites informs the information in the favourable and less favourable lists to provide robust data for the farmers. Less favourable sites are deemed to be in more marginal growing conditions, however careful varietal selection can still derive excellent results,” says Mr Widdowson.

Biogas Maize
The 2018 Forage Maize for Anaerobic Digestion (AD) Descriptive List for favourable sites has 34 varieties, with nine new listings of GL3121 and Gatsby from Limagrain, Bonnie, Absalon and ES Atlantide from Grainseed, Babexx from RAGT, MAS 13M from Maisadour Semences, Codigreen and Emmerson from DLF.

The AD DL for Less Favourable sites also includes nine new varieties; Emmerson, Bonnie, Gatsby, ES Atlantide, Absalon, MAS 13M, and Codigreen plus Tiberio and Konsulixx from RAGT. Nine varieties have been dropped from the DL, leaving 27 in total.

All varieties on the 2018 Lists have been nominated by the plant breeders and are suitable for biogas producers growing and using the crop as a feedstock. The DL aims to aid variety selection with producers checking energy output in the form of metabolisable energy (ME), a helpful guide to potential quality, and other traits such as plant digestibility and starch level.

The BSPB 2018 ‘Forage Maize’ and ‘Forage Maize for AD’ Descriptive Lists are available to download from the BSPB and NIAB websites.