MAA inaugural National Maize Competition's Narrandera winner

A maize crop grown on Nathan Heckendorf’s Narrandera property has taken out the irrigated section of the inaugural National Maize Competition.

Mr Heckendorf’s crop was yield tested at 18.36 tonnes per hectare.

Nathan Heckendorf said this season’s crop is the highest corn yield he’s ever achieved on the property and it was a trial with planting populations providing a boost.

“Our best result before was 17.6 tonnes with 80,000 seeds per hectare,” Mr Heckendorf said.

“This year we had two pivots at 80,000, one at 82,000 and one at 85,000.”

“Corn planted at 82,000 seeds per hectare was brilliant.

“The cobs were 44 to 46 kernels long and 18 kernels round.

“The extra 2000 seeds per hectare made all the difference.”

The winning entry was in the field planted at 82,000 seeds per hectare and was half a tonne per hectare better than the other areas.

Mr Heckendorf said his fertiliser program was also important in achieving high corn yields and included an up-front broadcast of urea at 450 kilograms per hectare and MAP at 280 kilograms per hectare.

A pop-up fertiliser with phosphorous, nitrogen and zinc and Kelpak seaweed extract was applied at seeding to feed the plants in the first two weeks.

“Corn sets it yield in the first four weeks so nutrition early is important,” Mr Heckendorf said.

When the crop was between V4 and V5 growth stages it was inter-row cultivated with a single tyne in the middle of the 36-inch rows.

Urea at a rate of 350 kilograms per hectare was placed at a depth of 30cm.

“The roots realise that it is there and concentrate on going down. It is used at pre-tasselling and grain-fill.”

Last year the maize also had a foliar application of boron, copper and zinc and this next season a sulphur product is being considered at early tasselling to try and increase yields even further.

“I’m targeting 19 tonnes per hectare in my mind and in my program,” Mr Heckendorf said.

Last year’s winning crop was planted on November 8 and harvested on May 18, with just 6.3 megalitres per hectare of water used through the summer.

Ian Hamono in northern Victoria was placed second in the irrigated section with 17.05 tonnes per hectare.