Agronomists are optimistic for high maize yields this year as a result of warm seedbeds, good weed control and plenty of sunlight.Across most of the country agronomists report of a relatively trouble-free season; the majority of crops got off to a good start and are putting on robust growth as good growing conditions continue. “In comparison with last year, we could see yields up by 5-10%,” says Norfolk-based agronomist Simon Draper. “Early drilled crops benefited from the warm weather in early May and pre-ems worked well as a result of some heavy rainfall just days later.”“Unfortunately in the west this rainfall was so heavy it halted drilling. As a result, approximately half of the crops in the south west were sown late but these will catch up given some good weather,” he says.“Consequently growth stages are variable; some crops are just emerging while others are at 10-12 leaves.”Further north, ProCam agronomist Neil Woolliscroft observes more even growth. “Most crops are at the seven leaf stage and I think we’ll have some good yields; we’re getting the right conditions for robust growth.”Mr Woolliscroft had a mixed start to the season. “Fields ploughed before winter didn’t get the frosts needed to break down the tilth consequently we had to work it harder which dried it out. On the other hand the mild winter kept soils warm, allowing us to drill crops into seedbeds averaging a consistent 10C.”“Together with good weed control, warm seedbeds definitely helped maize crops get off to a good start,” he says.Mr Woolliscroft uses pendimethalin at pre-emergence and applies between 1,000g/ha and 1,200g/ha depending upon the length of residual action required. “At post-emergence I’d normally opt for Samson (nicosulfuron) for grassweeds and Callisto (mesotrione) for broadleaved weeds but this year we tried MaisTer WG (foramsulfuron + iodosulfuron) for the first time.”Launched by Bayer CropScience earlier this year, MaisTer WG brings two new active ingredients to the maize market. “The results were really impressive. MaisTer has controlled a broad range of weeds, saving us a pass - and it’s done well on the trickier ones like crane’s-bill and black-grass.”“It proved itself to be crop-safe and the timing is flexible too.”Looking ahead both agronomists will be keeping an eye on disease pressure but neither routinely apply fungicides.“If growers are considering fungicide applications, sprays will need to go on in the next two to three weeks before diseases get a hold,” advises Mr Draper, who is keen to remind growers that there is no substitute for crop walking.