Maize Cultivation In Detail

Maize Cultivation

Maize (Zea mays)

FAMILY: Poaceae

ORIGIN: Mexico

Introduction to Maize Cultivation

Maize Cultivation:-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. 

Classification: of Maize

Dent corn (Zea mays indentata Sturt)

  • It is popularly known as dent corn. In this type of maize kernels have both hard and soft starches. On the top of the dent corn kernel having yellow or white colour. In the drying and shrinking of the soft starch, various forms and degrees of indentation result.

Flint corn (Zea mays indurate Sturt)

  • The endosperm in this type of maize kernel is soft and starchy in the center. Kernels of this type are rounded on the top. Colour may de white or yellow. It is grown in Europe, Asia, Central America and South America as well it is a principal type of grown in India.

Pop corn (Zea mays everta Sturt)

  • It possesses exceptional popping qualities.Size of kernels is small with hard corneous endosperm. The grains are used for human consumption and is the basis of pop-corn confections.

Flour corn (Zea mays amylacea Sturt)

  • It is also known as soft corn. It resembles to the flint corn in appearance and characteristics. It possesses a soft endosperm. Kernels are soft and of all colours, but white and blue are most common. The grains are composed of soft starch and have little or not dent.

Sweet corn (Zea mays saccharata Sturt)

  • The sugar and starch make the major component of the endosperm that result in sweetish taste of the kernels. It has sweeter taste than other corns. The cobs are picked up green for table and canning purposes.

Pod corn(Zea mays tunicate Sturt)

Waxy corn(Zea mays ceratina Kulesh)

  • The endosperm of the kernel when cut or broken gives a waxy appearance. Its origin is supposed to de in China.

Baby corn (Zea mays)

  • Grown for young babies (cobs) to be used for vegetable soup and salad. Boby corn rich in minerals and vitamins.

Importance of Maize Cultivation

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.

Food: 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.

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% lignin’s. Their uses in agriculture includes as a litter for poultry and as a soil conditioner.

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.

Land Preparation for Maize Cultivation

Maize requires a firm and compact seedbed free from stubbles and weed. One deep ploughing should be given, followed by two or three harrowings to bring the soil to a fine tilth. Add 10-15 tons of FYM or compost before last harrowing and mix thoroughly with harrow.

Ecological Requirement of Maize Cultivation

Climate: 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.

Soil: 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.

Seed and sowing in Maize Cultivation

c. Sowing time:The optimum time of sowing are given below.

Season Optimum time of sowing
Kharif Last week of June to first fortnightJuly
Rabi Last week of October for inter cropping and up to15th of November for sole crop
Spring First week of February

Sowing method: Maize seed should be sown with dibbling or drilling method. It is depending on purpose of sowing, type of of maize, varieties and farm condition. Seed should not be sown more 5-6 cm depth of soil.

Water management of Maize Cultivation

The irrigation water management depends on season as
about 80 % of maize is cultivated during monsoon season
particularly under rainfed conditions. However, in areas
with assured irrigation facilities are available, depending
upon the rains and moisture holding capacity of the soil,
irrigation should be applied as and when required by the
crop and first irrigation should be applied very carefully
wherein water should not overflow on the ridges/beds.

Weed Management in Maize Cultivation

Weeds are the serious problem in maize, particularly during kharif /monsoon season they
competes with maize for nutrient and causes yield loss up to 35 %. Therefore, timely weed management is needed for achieving higher yield. Atrazine being a selective and broad-spectrum herbicide in maize checks the emergence of wide spectrum of weeds. Pre-emergence application of Atrazine (Atratraf 50 wp, Gesaprim 500 fw) @ of 1.0-1.5 kg a.i ha-1 in 600 litre water, Alachlor (Lasso) @ 2-2.5 kg a.i ha-1 , Metolachlor (Dual) @ 1.5-2.0 kg a.i ha-1
, Pendamethalin (Stomp) @ 1-1.5 kg a.i. ha-1 are effective way for control of many annual and broad leaved weeds.

Variety of Maize

Full season maturity

  • Genotypes mature at 105-110 days or more. They are either rainfed or irrigated .
    eg: Ganga-5, Ganga-9, Deccan 103

Medium maturity

  • Varieties need 95-100 days to mature and suit well to regions with assured rainfall.
    Eg; Composites

Early maturity

  • Varieties need 89 to 90 days to mature.Suit either in monocropping or inter cropping.

Very early maturity Varieties

  • Reqire 75-80 days. They are suited as summer season crops or for inter cropping under raifed conditions. Eg: Diara, Diara-3 and D765

Extra early maturing

  • Suitable for cultivation under rainfed conditions at a very high altitude (>2500m). Growing season is very short and temperature relatively low.
    Eg: composite Auli.

Plant protections During Maize Cultivation

(A) Diseases:

Leaf Blight: Manifestation of oval to round, yellowish-purple spots on leaves. The affected leaves dry up and appear as if burnt. In severe cases, the plants may become stunted, resulting in poorly-formed ears.
The crop can be sprayed with Dithane M-45 or Indofil @ 35-40 gms or Blue Copper @55 -60 gms in 18 litres water, 2 -3 sprays at 15 days interval, will effectively control the disease.

(B) Insect Pests in Maize

1) Stem borer: These borers feed on leaves in the earlier stages. Later on they bore into the stem and cobs, rendering the plant unproductive.
– After harvest, the stalks and stubbles should be collected from the field and burnt.
– Crop can be sprayed twice with Thiodan 35 EC @ 27 ml in 18 litres water, once 20-25 days after germination and the second spray at the time of grain formation (in endemic areas).

2) Red Hairy Caterpillars: Caterpillars feed and destroy the whole plant if the attack is in the early stages of growth.
– Egg masses and young caterpillars should be collected as soon as detected, and destroyed.
– The field should be ploughed out after the crop is harvested, so as to expose pupae.
– Thiodan 35 EC @ 27 ml in 18 litres water should be sprayed only as last resort. 

3) Aphids: Tiny, soft bodied insects, usually green in colour. Nymphs and adults suck the sap from leaves and young shoots. 
The crop can be sprayed with Rogor 30 EC @ 18 ml in 18 litres water.

4) Grass hoppers: Short-winged hoppers, laying eggs in the soil at a depth of 7.5 to 20 cms, adults feed on foliage.
Thiodan 35 EC @ 25 ml or Ekalux 25 EC@ 28 mi in 18 litres water can be sprayed.

5) Termites: These pests attack young seedlings as well as mature plants; attack is also visible on roots and lower parts of the plants.
Thiodan 4 % Dust @ 12-15 kg per hectare is applied and mixed well with the soil.

Harvesting Of Maize

Cobs which are to be utilized as grain should be harvested when the grains are almost dry or containing roughly 20 % moisture. The appearance in the grains of composite and high yielding varieties however may be misleading as grains become dry while the stalk and leaves are still green. The cobs are removed from the standing crop and sun dried before shelling, otherwise retained in their jackets, if kept for seed or to be consumed or utilized at a later stage.

For sweet corn harvesting, harvest when tassels begin to turn brown and cobs start to swell. Kernels should be full and milky. Pull ears downward and twist to take off stalk.

For the Baby corn, harvested young cobs, especially when the silks have either not emerged or just emerged, and no fertilization has taken place, depending on the cultivar grown.


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