Scientific name(s)
Plant description
Pasture type and use
Where it grows
Animal production
Further information
Author and date
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Scientific name(s)

Zea mays



Plant description

Plant:  erect, summer growing annual crop

Stems: solid, of variable height average about 2.4 m

Leaves:  leaves grow alternately, and are long and narrow, can have up to 20-21 leaves per plant

Seedhead:  Main stem terminates in a staminate (male) inflorescence or tassel. The pistillate (female) inflorescence, or ear, can have up to 1000 seeds borne on a hard core called a cob enclosed in modified leaves called husks, individual silk fibres protrude for the type of the ear, each attached to an individual ovary.  Pollen from the tassel is carried by the wind and falls on the silk, where is germinates and grows through the silk until it reaches the ovary.  Each fertilised ovary grows and develops into a kernel.

Seeds:  As most commercial cultivars are hybrids, plant vigour is not transmitted to their off-spring, hence commercial seed, produced from crossed parent stock, is required for the next crop.

Pasture type and use

Summer active annual crop can be grown for silage or harvested for grain

Where it grows


High summer rainfall or irrigation


Deep, well drained loam soils are preferred, however with careful management and furrow irrigation can be successfully grown on heavier textured soils.


Is a subtropical species that thrives on temperature between 25oC and 35oC. 

Need soil temperature to exceeds 12oC before sowing.


Companion species

Maize is a forage crop and is not compatible with other grass species.

Sowing/planting rates as single species

Sowing rate is dependent on seed size and desired population and should be adjusted according to cultivar. A plant population of between 40-90,000 per hectare is desirable. Lower populations are for dryland crops and a  high population is recommended for irrigated crops.  Sow with a precision seeder; generally sown in rows, 750-900 mm apart. Good weed control is essential.

Sowing/planting rates in mixtures

Not applicable in commercial situtations.

Sowing time

When soil temperature >12C; in general from October to December


Not applicable.


A maize crop will use 25-45 kg/ha of phosphorus, 150-300 kg/ha nitrogen and 100-150 kg/ha of potassium. Application rates should be determined after consideration of soil type, paddock history and soil testing.  All the phosphorus should be applied at sowing, together with a third to half of the nitrogen in a band, separated from the seed


Maintenance fertliser



Precision chop for silage (10-20 mm sections) at 30-35% DM. DM content can either be measured or estimated from the position of the milk line of the grain.  When the milk line is about a third to  half way down the kernel, the crop is ready for harvest

Seed production

By seed company specialists.

Ability to spread


Weed potential


Major pests

Wireworms or cutworms at establishment, two-spotted mite, black beetle, armyworm.

Major diseases

Fusarium and Rhizoctonia root rots, rust, turcicum leaf blight

Herbicide susceptibility

Web link: Maize - Weeds and herbicides (QDPI&F)

Animal production

Feeding value

Silage made from good crops, harvested at the correct stage of development and ensiled properly can be 10-11 MJ/kg DM, but is generally low in protein (<8% crude protein).


If ensiled effectively, no issues with palatability or animal acceptance.

Production potential

Yields in excess of 20 t DM/ha are achievable with good management

Livestock disorders/toxicity

Some risk from mycotoxins and mycoestrogen, especially where crop and ensilage management is sub-optimal.

Web link: Mycotoxin Info and Update (Maize Association of Australia)


Numerous cultivars are available with maturity types of  80-127 CRM  (comparative relative maturity). Cultivar selection for silage should match the expected length of the growing season and consider tolerance to cold, lodging, diseases and herbicide.

Comparative relative maturity Cultivar Seed source/Information
80-95 Hybrix5 Pacific Seeds
85 MY034 Stephen Pasture Seeds
90 Emperor TL HSR Seeds
93 38F70 Pioneer
96 38T27 Pioneer
97 DK 477 Pacific Seeds
98 Julius HSR Seeds
99 36H36 Pioneer
100 Titus TL HSR Seeds
102 Maximus HSR Seeds
103 SR73 HSR Seeds
105 SR103 HSR Seeds
105 Hercules HSR Seeds
106 35D28 Pioneer
107 Roman HSR Seeds
108 Hycorn 502IT (PAC338) Stephen Pasture Seeds
108 34N43 Pioneer
109 34B28IT Pioneer
109 Hycorn 533 Pacific Seeds
110 Colossus HSR Seeds
112 Olympiad HSR Seeds
112 Hannibal HSR Seeds
112 Cobber Flint Nuseed
114 Victory Nuseed
114 33V15 Pioneer
115 Hycorn 424 Pacific Seeds
118 31H50 Pioneer
118 Hycorn 675IT Pacific Seeds
118 3153 Pioneer
118 31G66 Pioneer
118 XL80 Pacific Seeds
119 Hycorn 345IT Pacific Seeds
123 Hycorn 727 Pacific Seeds
126 Hycorn 901 Pacific Seeds
127 P2375 Pioneer

 Denotes that this variety is protected by Plant Breeder's Rights Australia

Further information

Web links:
Maize Association of Australia
Maize production in Queensland (QDPI&F)
Flood irigated maize in the south west of Western Australia (DAFWA)
Summer forage crop and grain choices for the NSW coast south of Coffs Harbour (NSWDPI)


Seed Companies, Maize Australia, DPIs

Author and date

KB Kelly and KFM Reed

December 2008