Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How To Cultivate And Manage A Maize Farm

Maize is very simple to cultivate, easy to maintain and take less capital too.  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, almost every part of Nigeria 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, 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. 

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.
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. Get Spacious Land -

Like I said before, maize can be grown in all lands in Nigeria but it performs better in a well drained fertile loamy soil.

 Look for land that is predominantly loam, if you can lay your hands on forest land, that will be very good because I've 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.

Corn-Maize

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 :-


Maize-Farm

 

Plant early maturing, streak or downy mildew resistant varieties.

Yellow Open Pollinated Varieties: TZESR-Y;  DMR-ESRY (Downy Mildew and
Streak Resistant).

White, Open Pollinated Varieties: TZESR-W; DMR-ESRW (Downy Mildew and Streak Resistant)

POPCORN: White Pop: Yellow composite.


Types of maize

1.   Pod corn: (Zea mays tunicate):- It is ornamental and grown in botanical garden

2.   Soft or flour corn (Zea mays amylaceas):- This produce grains of a mixed soft and hard starch which prevents shrinking at drying, it is used for flour
3.   Pop corn (Zea mays everate):- Its endosperm explodes during heating to expose a white internal surface
4.   Flint corn Zea mays indurata):- It contains endosperm layer and does not shrink at drying
5.   Dent corn (Zea mays indentata):- It is characterized by depression in the crown of the gains, it is used mainly for starch product and livestock feed.
6.   Sweet corn: (Zea mays sacharata):- It is characterized by high sugar content; it shrinks and wrinkles at drying. It is used for human consumption e.g canning, cornflakes.
7.   Waxy corn: (Zea mays certina)
 
Give space of about one feet to one and half feet from and between each plant. 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.

 

Manual Weeding:
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.

Herbicide Application:

Apply Atrazine pre-emergence at the rate of 3kg ai/ha on a clean seed bed.



COLOUR CLASSIFICATION OF MAIZE

 According to colour, maize can be classified into two:
1.   Yellow maize:
It has a significant amount of vitamin A, protein, fats and oil arising carotene content in its pigment 
2.   White maize:                           
It contains high starch deposit; it is low in food value, quality than yellow maize.

CLIMATE AND SOIL REQUIREMENT
          It requires well drained loam or silt loam with adequate organic matter:
1.   Soil PH: Between 5.0 to 8.0
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
3.   Temperature:- Between 210c to 300c
4.   Land Preparation:- Clear, plough, harrow and ridge
5.   Planting Date: Mid March to early April for early maize and July to mid September for late maize depending on rainfall.
In Northern part of Nigeria however, maize can only be planted once a year between May and June
6.   Seed rate: Two to three seeds per hole to be later thinned to one to two plants per hole two to three weeks after planting
7.   Spacing: 50cm by 80cm
i.             30cm by 90cm
ii.           45cm by 60cm
8.   Thinning/supplying: - Thinning and supplying should be carried out two to three weeks after planting.
9.       Weeding:  Use cutlass or hoe for weeding
i.             Use of hand to pull weeds
ii        Use of herbicides
1.                Manuring: Manure /fertilizer application depends on:
i.             Age of plant
ii.           Plant population
iii.          Soil fertility
However, maize requires adequate nutrients especially for high yield. N.P: K 15:15:15 can be applied two to three weeks after planting or two weeks before tasselling. Compost manure or farmyard could also be used.
11.    Maturity period: Maize matures between 10 – 14 weeks (2 ½ - 3 months)
12.    Harvesting: Harvesting of maize can be done by
i.             Hand
ii.           Use of combine harvest
iii.          Forage harvester for harvesting folders
13.    Signs of maturity: Cobs begin to lose chlorophyll turning from green to yellow or brown.
ii.           Hair drop and its pink colour turns to dark-brown 
14.    Storage: Shelled maize are stored in insect – free container e.g. Silo, drums e.t.c
ii.       Unshelled maize can be tied together and hanged in a dry place
15.    Yield: Yield of maize depends on varieties of maize that you plant
ii.       soil type/fertility
iii.      Plant population
iii.          Management
On the average, yield of maize could be between 800kg to 1000kg per acre
Use of maize
1.   Human consumption
2.   Livestock feed
3.   Extraction of corn oil (glucose syrup) in industries
4.   Maize could also be processed into various products for the use of man e.g. flour, cornflakes, pop-corn.
DISEASE OF MAIZE
1.   Maize rust (Fungal disease)
2.   Maize smut (Fungal disease)
3.   Leaf blight (Fungal disease)
4.   Downey mildew (Viral disease)
PESTS OF MAIZE
1.   Stem borer
2.   Army worm
3.   Weevils
4.   Rodents etc.
After all these has been done, next is to wait for the maturity of your corn for the harvest to begin. There is huge profit and benefits in every farm produce.

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