Introduction of Maize/Corn
Maize is one of the most important cereals of the world. With its world average yield of 27.8 q\ha maize ranks first among the cereals and is followed by rice, wheat, and millets, with average grain yield of 22.5, 16.3 and 6.6 q/ha respectively. In terms of world acreage, India stands only next to the USA, Brazil, China and Mexico, with regards to production to ranks eleventh countries in order of production are USA, China, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, France, South Africa, the USSR, Rumania, Yugoslavia and India.
Maize in India is an important cereal, and both its area and production have steadily increased during the past two decades. In terms of area and production, it ranks only next to rice, wheat, Jowar The states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and Punjab account for over 75 per cent of the area and production of this cereal in the country. Each of the districts of Bahraich, Gonda and Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh; Monghyr, saran and Darbhanga in Bihar; Udaipur and Bhilwara in Rajasthan; and Panchmahal in Gujarat put annually over one lakh of hectares in maize. These nine districts account for a quarter of a national area and production of maize in India. Being an important cereal, over 85 per cent of its production in the country is consumed directly as food in various forms; the chapatis are the commonest preparation, whereas roasted ears, popcorn and porridge are other important forms in which maize is consumed. The use of maize in animal feed, particularly for poultry, and in the starch industry is increasing. Green maize plants also furnish a very succulent fodder during spring and monsoon, particularly in northern India.
Maize is mainly a rainfed Kharif crop which is sown just before the onset of monsoon and is harvested after retreating of the monsoon. In Tamil Nadu, it is a rabi crop and is sown a few weeks before the onset of winter rainy season in Sept. and Oct. It requires 50-100 cm of rainfall and it cannot be grown in areas of more than 100 cm rainfall.
The scientific name of maize:
A. For Higher and Mid-altitudes (800 m above MSL)
- Local white
- Local Yellow
High Yielding Varieties of Maize (HYVs):
- NLD White
B. For Lower Altitudes (Below 800m)
- Ganga Safed-2
- Ganga -101
Climatic conditions for maize and Soil requirement for maize production
Maize does well on a wide range of climatic conditions, and it is grown in the tropical as well as temperate regions, from the sea –levels up to altitudes of 2500 m. It is, however, susceptible to frost at all stages of its growth. The ideal soils for its cultivation are the loams and sandy loams which should be fertile, deep and well-drained.
Land Preparation for maize production
Maize requires a firm and compact bed, free from stubbles and weeds. One deep ploughing should be given, followed by two or three harrowings, to bring the soil to a fine tilt.
* For higher altitudes: mid-March to mid-April.
* For lower regions: April to May.
* Rabi (winter) crop: October to November.
Seed Rate and Seed Treatment of Maize
- Seed Rate – 15-20 kgs per hectare
- Seed Treatment – Seed Treatment with Thiram or Captan @ 4 gms./Kg Maize seeds is advocated before sowing if seeds are procured from an unreliable source kept from the last crop.
Manures and Fertilizers used in Maize Production
- Manures: 10-15 tonnes of farmyard manure, cow dung or compost is required per hectare, which should be incorporated into the soil at ploughing time.
- Fertilizers : (N:P:K :: 80:60:40)
High Yielding Varieties (Kg/Ha)
Local Varieties (Kg/Ha)
Soils, however, should be tested regularly as the recommendation will differ from region to region, and will also depend on other factors related to the previous crop grown, soil management, pH, etc.
One third the quantity of Urea and the whole quantity of SSP and MOP should be applied at sowing time or just before sowing. The remaining quantity of urea should be applied as top-dressing, in two equal, split doses, 30-45 days (knee height stage) and 60-75 days (tassel initiation stage), after sowing.
Furrows are made in the beds at a distance of 70 cms and depth of 7.5-10 cms. The manures and a basal dose of fertilizers are applied in the furrows and mixed well with the soil. Seeds are then sown in these furrows in lines, at a distance of 20 cms (8 inches) and covered over with soil.
Maize Irrigation requirement
The Kharif crop requires irrigation only when there is an extended period of water stress. However, the Rabi crop needs frequent irrigation at intervals of 15-20 days.
Weeding is necessary as weeds interfere with the plant growth, particularly during the initial stages. 2-3 weedings may be required. Plants should be also be earthed up after every weeding for a better crop stand. Intercultural operations should not be continued after flowering.
Maize Diseases and their control
l to round, yellowish-purple spots on leaves. The affected leaves dry up and appear as if burnt. In severe cases, the plants may become stunned, resulting in poorly-formed ears.
The crop can be sprayed with Diathane – 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.
Insect Pests of Maize and their control-
i) 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).
ii) 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.
Tiny, soft-bodied insects, usually green in colour. Nymphs and adults suck the sap from leaves and young shoots.
The crops can be sprayed with Rogor 30 EC @ 18 ml in 18 litres water.
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 ml in 18 litres water can be sprayed.
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.
Maize harvesting time
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.
* Local Varieties – 15 to 20 quintals (grain) per hectare.
* High Yielding Varieties – 40 to 50 quintals (grain) per hectare.