Maize, also known as Corn is one of the most useful cereal crop in West Africa, foods made out of maize is very nutritious as it is an important source of Carbohydrate, Protein, Iron, Vitamin B, and Minerals, and is known to digest very quickly.
Most Africans tend to consume maize mainly as a starchy base in a wide variety of porridge, pastes, grits, and beer. The Green freshly harvested maize cob is eaten either roasted or boiled.
In many Western countries like the USA, maize is used mainly for industrial products processing and for manufacturing of animal feeds or as straight Livestock feeds meanwhile, whichever way it is used, maize is the most important cereal crop in Africa with rice and wheat which make up the three most important cereal crops in the world and Hybrid maize cultivation presents viable opportunity for would be maize Farmer to make money in Nigeria and other parts of the world this season.
I don’t want to emphasize on the profit of maize produce because you and I knows there is huge profit and benefits in every farm produce.
Maize is very simple to cultivate, easy to maintain, far less delicate that Rice, and take less capital too. Like rice, maize matures very fast, within 2-5 months of planting the crop is ready for harvest, depending on which stage you want to harvest your crop.
Maize grows in a wider range of soil type than rice, almost every part of Nigeria for instance can grow maize on their soil. With the use of Hybrid Maize and mechanized system of farming, yield of maize can reach up to 10.2 tonnes per hectare, with traditional African type of cultivation, production is 2.1 tonnes per hectare which isn’t too bad anyway.
Maize (Zea mays L.) is one of the most versatile emerging crop shaving wider adaptability under varied agro-climatic conditions. Globally, maize is known as queen of cereals because it has the highest genetic yield potential among the cereals.
It is cultivated on nearly 150 m ha in about 160 countries having wider diversity of soil, climate, biodiversity and management practices that contributes 36 % (782 m t) in the global grain production.
In addition to staple food for human being and quality feed for animals, maize serves as a basic raw material as an ingredient to thousands of industrial products that includes starch, oil, protein, alcoholic beverages, food sweeteners, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, film, textile, gum, package and paper industries etc.
Here are simple things you need to put in place to cultivate, harvest, and sell maize in your area this season; and if possible, cultivate and sell in large quantity to make more money.
1) Good Land Space
Maize can be grown in all lands in Nigeria but it performs better in a well drained fertile loamy soil therefore, i will strongly advice you to look for land that is predominantly loam, if you can lay your hands on forest land, that will be very good because I have personally seen corn perform far better without fertilizer on forest lands. The reason may be due to the decomposed leaves from the forest trees.
Clear the land using manual laborers or mechanical means, the bottom line is to remove the weeds and keep the soil loose for proper maize seedbed and ensure the preservation of the topsoil .
Make sure you plant your maize seed as soon as you clear the soil to allow the maize grow ahead of weeds. Delay in planting will expose the hybrids maize to competition with the weeds.
2) Get Improved Maize Variety
If possible, look for Recommended Verities of maize to improve your yield.
For Early Season Planting, Look for:-
Yellow Open Pollinated Varieties. Western Yellow 1: TZSR-Y-1 (Streak Resistant)
DMR-LSRY (Downy Mildew & Streak Resistant).
Yellow Hybrids Varieties: 8425-8; 8329-15
White, Open Pollinated Varieties: TZPB (FARZ 27); TZB (FARZ 34); TZSR-W-1;
ZPBSR (Streak Resistant); DMR-LSRW (Downy Mildew & Streak Resistant).
DMR-LSRW (Downy Mildew & Streak Resistant).
White Hybrids: 8321-18; 9022-19; (Striga Resistant).
For Late Season :-
Plant early maturing, streak or downy mildew resistant varieties.
Yellow Open Pollinated Varieties: TZESR-Y; DMR-ESRY (Downy Mildew and
White, Open Pollinated Varieties: TZESR-W; DMR-ESRW (Downy Mildew and Streak Resistant)
POPCORN: White Pop: Yellow composite.
Get any of these seed varieties from your State and Institution’s Agric departments or anywhere you can find them, just ask people.
Give space of about one feet to one and half feet from and between each plant (1-1.5ft).
Planting is best by March ending to the first week of April, sometimes up to early May, depending on how early the rain started and the intensity.
3) Apply Fertilizer and Control the Weeds
You may not need fertilizer if the soil is quite fertile. However, the application of fertilizer will aid the crop to yield more.
For Open Pollinated Maize Varieties:
Forest fallows 10 years or more. Apply 200 kg (4 bags) of NPK 25-10-10 per hectare at planting as band or broadcast application.
For Hybrids Corn Varieties:
For every high yields maize, you’ll need to apply 600 kg (12 bags) of 25:10:10 per hectare in two splits that is, at planting (200 kg) and 5 to 6 weeks after planting.
Start the first weeding on your maize farm from 15days after planting and not later than 25days or as soon as you begin to notice the growth of weeds in your farm.
A second weeding may not be necessary before the second application of fertilizer (if there is need for second application of fertilizer) many farmers don’t apply fertilizer twice.
Apply Atrazine pre-emergence at the rate of 3kg ai/ha on a clean seed bed.
After all these has been done, next is to wait for the maturity of your corn for the harvest to begin.
Importance of Maize
1) Forage and Feed
The next important field where maize finds extensive use is for livestock feeds viz, cattle Poultry and piggery both in the form of seeds and fodder. The green fodder can be fed to milch cattle to boost the milk production of a considerable extent; South African Maize is a best suited variety for fodder.
The crop has to be harvested when the grains are in milky stage, This variety is supposed to have Lactogenic effect hence especially suited for milch cattle. The digest ability of maize fodder is higher than sorghum, bajra and other non-leguminous forage crops.
In most of the developing countries maize is consumed directly as food. In India, over 85 percent of the maize production is used as food.
Most commonly used forms are as (1) Chapattis (2) porridges of various forms (iii) boiled or roasted green ears (iv) breakfast foods like corn flakes and (v) Pop corn. For the (iii) and (v) category sweet and Pop corn varieties are especially grown in USA and Europe.
3) Other Uses
The maize cob, the central rachis to which the grains are attached remains as an agricultural waste after threshing; it finds many important agricultural and industrial uses.
Approximately it forms 15 to 18% of the total ear weight and contains 35% cellulose, 40% pentose and 15% ligninâs. Their uses in agriculture includes as a litter for poultry and as a soil conditioner.
4) Industrial Uses
The industrial uses based on the physical properties of the cob when ground to powder are as fillers for explosives in the manufacture of plastics, glues, adhesives, reyon, resin, vinegar and artificial leather and as diluents and carrier in the formulation of insecticides and pesticides.
Based on the chemical properties the processed cobs find their use in the manufacture of furfurol, fermentable sugars, solvents, liquid fuels, charcoal gas and other chemicals by destructive distillation, and also in the manufacture of pulp, paper and hard boards.
Ecological Requirement of Maize
Maize does well on a wide range of climatic conditions, and it is grown in the tropical as well as temperate regions, from sea-levels up to altitudes of 2500m. It is however susceptible to frost at all stages of its growth.
Maize can be grown successfully in variety of soils ranging from loamy sand to clay loam. However, soils with good organic matter content having high water holding capacity with neutral pH are considered good for higher productivity.
Being a sensitive crop to moisture stress particularly excess soil moisture and salinity stresses; it is desirable to avoid low lying fields having poor drainage and also the field having higher salinity. Therefore, the fields having provision of proper drainage should be selected for cultivation of maize.
Here are more amazing maize farming books and related resources to guide and assist you further: