According to statistics, it has been proven that Nigeria for example produces approximately 8 million metric tonnes of maize per year. Maize is one of the most versatile emerging crops having wider 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 150m ha in about 160 countries having wider diversity of soil, climate, biodiversity and management practices that contributes 36% (782MT) in the global grain production.
Maize can be grown successfully in variety of soils ranging from loam – sand to clay – loam. However, soils with good organic matter content having high water holding capacity with neutral PH are considered good for higher yield.
Maize hybrids are responsive to nutrients applied either through organic or inorganic sources. The rate of nutrient application depends mainly on soil nutrient status/balance and cropping system.
- Application of 120-150kg N(Indorama Urea 264-330kg/ha)@70-80kg P2O5, 70-80kg K2O and 25kg ZnSO4/ha is recommended. Full doses of P, K and Zn should be applied as basal preferably drilling of fertilizers in bands along the seed using seed –cum-fertilizer drills
- Nitrogen (Indorama Urea) should be applied in splits for higher productivity and use efficiency.
- Nitrogen application at grain filling results in better grain filling.
- One or two sprays of 2% Indorama Urea and application of micronutrient mixture can be given in 3 to 5- week old crops to restore the vigor which may have received setback because of delayed weeding and inadequate drainage.
- The fertilizers should be applied 10-12cm aways from the base of the plant to avoid plant injury. Soon after application, the fertilizer on the soil surface should be covered to minimize losses.
- Volatilization losses in Indorama Granular Urea are almost half of Prilled Urea. Lesser quantity of Indorama Gradular Urea gives better yields than Prilled Urea due to saving in leaching and volatilization losses..
About 20kg of seed would be needed to sow one hectare. Seed should be sown about 5cm deep to ensure good seedling growth and vigor.
A clean, smooth, deeply ploughed but firm seedbed is ideal. It is desirable to sow the crop on ridges to avoid damage due to water-logging and to provide adequate moisture in the root zone.
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Weed having broad leaves and most of the grasses can be conventionally controlled with a single pre-emergence application of Atrazine @ 1kg/ha. In addition, 2 inter- cultivations are needed to keep weeks under check.
Insect Pest Management
Control of Chilo ( Stem Borer) and Sesamia (Pink Borer): for control of Chilo and Sesamia, foliar spray of 0.1% Endosulfan ( 35EC) In 250 litres of water 10days after germination is very effective.
The Maize Stalk Borer, Chila partellus is a major pest, foliar application 0.1% Endosulfan (35EC) or 0.05% Lindane (20EC) should be applied in 10 -15 days old crop followed by second application of 4% Endosulfan granuless or 1% Lindane granules @ 15kg/ha in plant
The best way to avoid these diseases is to grow resistant varieties and undertake timely sowing. Turcicum and Maydis Leaf- blight can be controlled by 2 or 3 sprays of Zineb (Dithane 2-78) @ 2.5kg/ha 1000 litres of water at intervals of 10-15days.
Harvesting is done when grain moisture reaches 20-25%. This can be noticed when the cobs-sheath (husk) dries up completely. After harvesting, cobs should be dried in sunlight for about a week. The cobs are then ready for shelling.
Hand-sheller and powersheller, driven by current or tractor are available and they can be used for shelling. After shelling, the grain can be dried for 2 to 3 days, cleaned and graded.
The seed treatment with Thiram @ 2g per kilo of seed can be done and stored safely when seed moisture is about 8 to 10%. Storing in air tight containers reduces and other storage pests and diseases.
For guidance on maize farming and to procure appropriate maize inputs: Improved seedlings, fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides and for a detailed technique for the prevention and control of army worm, contact agric4profits.com extension services department.