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Maize Diets on the Rise

the rise of maize in diets

The Rise of Maize in Diets

The use of maize (sometimes referred to as corn) has increased greatly over the past few years as prices have become competitive against wheat products.

Maize is a high energy grain that can be used to improve dairy cow production and reproductive performance. It has high starch content but virtually no soluble sugar. In addition maize starch is less rapidly degraded in the rumen than other starch types meaning there is less risk of acidosis.

This season’s extreme weather patterns have caused price fluctuations as the maize plants shallow roots make it particularly susceptible to droughts, intolerance of nutrient deficient soils and are prone to being uprooted by severe winds. The effects of tropical storm Bill that hammered the US corn belt left fields flooded through June and July. With the US being the top maize grower, producing around 40% of the world’s production, prices pushed up to reflect these concerns and was not helped by the searing temperatures in parts of Europe particularly southern France.

Maize has been a staple crop for hundreds of years but it wasn’t until the 1940s that technological advances started to rapidly improve yields. Today US farmers grow five times as much as they did in the 1930s on 20%

Apart from whole maize that is either ground or cracked for animal feed there are two basic methods for processing the corn kernels – dry milling and wet milling. Dry milling is the process in which the maize kernel is separated into flour, cornmeal, grits and other products by soaking in water and removing the germ for processing into oil. The remainder is processed into starches, sweeteners and ethanol. It takes a bushel of maize to sweeten 400 cans of soft drink. Ethanol is a cost effective fuel octane booster and is required to fulfil the Ethanol Mandate enforced by the Renewable Fuels Standard Agency.

Wet milling soaks the maize kernel in water to separate out the starch, germ, fibre and gluten by grinding and centrifuge. The gluten is either railed out in the wet form direct to farm or dried to produce maize gluten for domestic use or export.


Source Details

Judith Clifford, Senior Alternative Feeds Trader.

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