Apr. 11, 2016
Since 2012 the maize acreage in Italy declined by 29% and currently stands at 823,000 hectares. The decline is particularly evident in grain maize which has decreased by 38%, in contrast to silage maize which fell by just 10%. The cultivated area for grain maize now stands at 508,000 ha and silage maize well below at 315,000 ha. In the last 20 years, the Italian maize acreage has been subject to strong fluctuations and has now reached the lowest point since 1994.
In addition to the overall change of the acreage, a structural change is apparent; the maize acreage on smaller farms goes down; In 2012, 27% of the maize area was grown by farms with less than 20 ha cultivated area. The proportion of maize area on these farms went down to 4% in 2014. In contrast, on farms with more than 200 ha of cultivation area the proportion of maize rose from 9% to 37%.
The reduction in maize cultivation is related to falling market prices and a lack of rainfall during the growth period in certain regions. As with most crops timely precipitation is necessary to aid establishment, especially in maize where the yield potential of the crop is established during the early growth stage of the crop. Where the decline in maize is observed durum wheat and Sorghum are replacing some of the area. However, the strongest rise can be seen in the cultivation of soy which has increased 102% since 2012. Looking ahead to next season the Associazione Italiana Sementi expects the decline in the cultivation of maize to continue.
In addition to ad-hoc surveys, the Kleffmann Group conducts Farmer based panel surveys to profile field inputs, which are repeated each season. The panels provide a wealth of quantitative and qualitative insights into crop inputs. Each year more than 400 panels are carried out worldwide, based on 200.000 interviews with farmers, which cover 70% of the global seed market and 52% of the global crop protection market. In Italy, the success of the farmer panel in maize is thanks to the co-operation of around 1,000 Italian farmers since it was first established in 1994.