The Foundation for Arable Research is seeking feedback from maize growers on a proposal to withdraw from the Maize Hybrid Performance Trials at the completion of the 2019-2020 season.
Chief executive officer Dr Alison Stewart says she’s concerned FAR’s investment in MPT is not generating sufficient benefit for maize growers, and that the funds, which are generated from maize seed levies, could be better used for other maize research.
“The MPT programme was established in 2014 following many years of discussion about the possible establishment of independent maize hybrid performance trials in New Zealand.
“Its goal was to provide growers with independent information on the relative performance of maize hybrids in order to help them with decision-making around hybrid selection.”
However, Alison says, this has proved difficult for two reasons. “Firstly, we are not able to evaluate all of the commercially-available hybrids, because not all commercial seed companies have signed up to the programme, which means we cannot present a full picture of hybrid performance to the growers. “Secondly, maize hybrids are replaced on a regular basis. The value of any cultivar performance programme lies in the ability to analyse cultivar performance over several years, at different sites under different climatic conditions.
“Unfortunately, in many cases, by the time the MPT trials programme has built up this data, the hybrid is no longer available.”
Alison says FAR will contribute to this year’s MPT trials programme, which will occur across eight sites and incorporate as many commercially-relevant hybrids as possible.
Beyond that, FAR’s involvement will cease unless it receives strong feedback from maize growers about the value they feel they have gained from the programme to date.
Maize growers will be sent an online survey asking their opinions on the MPT programme. Any growers who’d like more information on this matter, can contact FAR’s Anna Heslop at email: Anna.Heslop@far.org.nz or phone 021 960 058. (Source: ‘From The Ground Up’ Winter 2019, FAR).