Maize Cultivation Farming
Maize is one of the food crops which is commonly grown by different people in different countries and it is one of the main food crops just like Rice in some countries. It can be grown both under rain fed and Irrigation. It requires a well distributed annual rainfall of 600 to 1000 mm and an optimum soil pH of 5.5 to 8 to give optimum yield under good agronomic practices. Maize is able to tolerate to drought and some acidic soils unlike other crops. This article will provide you in detail on how to grow maize with all the required agronomic activities.
Choice of Varieties
The choice of variety depends on several factors, which among others include the following:
- Yield potential
- Season length
- Anticipated disease
As a farmer it is recommended to choose and use a variety which is well adapted to your area. The variety which matches climatic conditions of your area. Nowadays, it is advisable to grow hybrid maize variety which has potential to give high yields over local varieties. It is also recommended to purchase a certified seed for optimal yields. For the guidance on the choice of varieties, consult your local agriculture extension officer.
Key points to consider when choosing hybrid varieties
- Amount of rainfall which your area receives, as this can make you buy early maturity hybrid variety if your area does not receive full rainfall required for maize cultivation.
- Time taken for a growing season to come to an end.
- Air temperature and altitude.
- Soil fertility and fertilizer to be applied based on soil analysis sample report.
- Date to plant your maize seeds.
- Plant density.
- Suspectability to pests and diseases
- Agronomic management.
Key points to consider
It takes a range of 120 to 140 days for the early maturity maize seed to be ready for harvesting from the day of planting and it takes a range of 141 to 155 days for the medium variety maize seed to mature. However, even though this is the case, it also depends on several factors, i.e., air temperature, agronomic practices among others. It is recommended not to put all eggs in one basket, make sure you grow at least one variety on your farm. An altitude can also affect the time taken for a maize variety to mature.
The maize crop performs well in warm temperate areas having an optimal temperature range of 21 to 27 °C. In areas whose daily temperature falls as low as 19 °C and night temperature falls below 14 °C, maize does not perform well. Such areas, maize can be grown in dry season under Irrigation. Maize can be grown up to a temperature of 35 °C, however, any temperature from 28 to 35 °C, maize crop does not give optimal yield. The optimal germination temperature for maize is known to between 17 to 19 °C. The chances of germination are lowered when temperature falls below 14 °C.
Maize crop requires well distributed annual rainfall of a range of 600 mm to 1000 mm, however, it can also be grown in areas which receives annual rainfall as low as 480 mm, but it has to be evenly distributed. When growing maize, it is recommended to keep on monitoring soil moisture content to avoid the moisture content shortfalls as maize crop respond negatively to any moisture stress. Similarly, monitor your maize field to make sure it does not turn waterlogged.
Maize produces an optimal yield in a well drained loam soils having good soil fertility, however, maize crop can be grown in a wide range of soils. The optimum soil pH for growing maize is known to be in a range of 5.5 to 8.
Make sure you prepare your site in preparation for maize cultivation. You need to remove all the tree stumps, bush and then plough or till, and make field ridges in preparation for planting. You can also add manure to improve soil fertility for optimal yields.
It is recommended to treat your maize seeds with chemicals which will protect it against soil pests, diseases, and birds attack. The following chemicals are recommended and can be applied; marshal 2% dust and Apron Star. One packet weighing 10g can be used to treat 5 kg maize seeds.
It is recommended to plant maize seeds with the first rain if the amount of rain water is sufficient for planting. Plating date will depend with ecological zone, however, make sure you plant your seeds at the beginning of rainy season.
Plant population and spacing
It is recommended to have 36,000 to 60,000 maize plants per hectare depending on type of variety and environmental yield potential. High maize population can be established using early rain so that the maize plant can make full use of rain water in the season. High plant population can also be established using Irrigation water as management becomes easier. In dry land conditions, make sure you lower the maize population to a range of 37,000 to 40,000 per hectare. The recommended Seed rate per hectare is 25 kg per hectare. 10 kg of maize seeds is enough to plant 1 acre, similarly, 5kg can be planted on a half acre. When planting maize seeds, make sure the seeds are not placed as deep as above 5 cm. The recommended spacing for maize planting is known to be 75 × 50 cm, where each stand can have 2 plants.
Methods of planting
Maize can be planted manually using hands or mechanically.
Before any application of fertilizer is done in your maize plant, make sure you conduct a soil analysis to know the right type and quantity of fertilizer to apply based on the soil test results. The recommended nutrients per hectare is ; 50 kg of muriate of potash, 50 kg of single super phosphate and 50 kg Nitrogen fertilizer. You can apply 6 bags of N-P-K 15-15-15 per hectare to your maize field for optimal yields and this should act as the first dose. The second dose should be 2 bags of Urea weighing 50kg each applied to one hectare of maize field. The first dose can be applied during planting or during the first week after planting while the second dose can be applied in 4 to 5 weeks after planting. Before a second fertilizer application is done, make sure the maize field is free from weeds.
After planting make sure you remove weeds in your field as soon as they emerge and this can be done in 2 weeks for the first weeding and in 4 to 5 weeks for the second weeding. This will make your field to be free from weeds. You can remove these weeds manually using a hoe. Weeding can also be achieved through herbicides and if you want to use this method, make sure you follow the given instructions.
From the day of planting, maize harvesting can be done in a range of 80 to 110 days depending on type of variety and other ecological factors. During harvesting, maize cob is removed from maize stalk and this can be done by hands.