Maize is one of the world most important crops. It is a cereal with the highest yield potential. However the endosperm protein is deficient in two essential amino acids lysine and tryptophan (is a problem in all cereals) but the germ protein is rich in this two. This is why the introduction of quality protein maize (QPM) with enhanced values of these amino acids is of great help to the dietary needs of the Nigerian consumer ( both human and animals). Silaged green maize is valuable animal food. Maize is also industrially important for the production of starch oil alcohol ceramics drugs paints and textiles.
Maize is more extensively distributed over the earth than any other cereal crop because it adapts to a wide range of climates.
It needs a lot of sunshine and warmth and most cultivators have little sensitivity to photoperiod.
The best maize regions are those which receive annual precipitation of 600-1000mm though it is also successfully grown under irrigation after the cold harmattan is over.
The ideal soil for maize is a deep medium-textured well-drained fertile soil with high water-holding capacity in the pH range of 5.5-8.0
Field measurement is very important because accurate field measurement will guide the farmers to know the actual area of his farm.
The use of a geographical positioning system (GPS) has simplified the rigour of land measurement for area calculation, select AREA from the main menu of GPS receiver
Enter START then walk around the perimeter of the farmland you want to measure.
Select CALCULATE to see the area inside the path walked through. The AREA unit can be converted to any unit in the GPS receiver.
The conventional method is the same as for sorghum. However, minimum tillage for field preparation has been more extensively tested and adopted for maize than for any other crop.
Tillage is an age-old process that most farmers employ to make the seedbed. It aims to create a soil environment favourable to plant growth. It loosens the soil kills weeds and improves the circulation of the water and air in the soil.
However in recent years because of the negative consequences of frequent tillage in many tropical soils there is the new concept of reduced tillage i.e.mininum or zero tillage.
Tillage is considered inappropriate in the tropics because the topsoil is shallow and fragile.
Minimum tillage entails that crop production should be carried out with as little tillage or soil disturbance as possible, as tillage is seen as a necessary evil which should only be sparingly indulged in.
No-till or zero tillage involves preparing a seedbed with no-tilling. In this system residues from the preceding crop are left on the filed as a covering called mulch. Rainwater washes the chemicals down through the mulch and into the soil. In most cases, no further soil preparation is necessary. The seedbed is ready for planting.
The no-till method improves on traditional tillage systems in several ways.
For example, mulch helps prevent erosion and helps keep moisture in the soil. By eliminating ploughing and harrowing, the method saves both time and tractor fuel.
The minimum and zero tillage hold some promise in Nigeria since most of the soils in the Savanna typical of tropical soils are shallow fragile have low organic matter low cation exchange capacity (CEC) and are prone to erosion
Similarly the increase in population and the changing attitude to agriculture has resulted in increased intensification and mechanization of farming activities.
Significant problems arise from the soil tillage using heavy implements and animal traction which include soil compaction erosion and runoff.
The modern highly selected cultivators can be put into the following groups: Major ( Dent maize Flint maize and Flour on soft maize) or minor groups ( sweet corn Popcorn Pod corn Waxy maize)
Most of the varieties in Nigeria belong to the dent and flint. However the cultivation of popcorn and sweet maize is on the increase mainly as a cash crop
Example of maize varieties include TZPBSR-W TZBSR 95TZEE-W1 95TZEE-Y TZEcomp3 Pool 16-DT Acr97TZLcomp1- W Hybrids ( Oba super 1 and Oba super 2) etc
The time of sowing is the most critical factor affecting maize yield ( If sown early it will mature in rains which will affect the quality of grains and when sown late it will result in poor yield).
Maize should be sown as soon as rains are established.
In parts of Nigeria where there are two district rain peaks two crops of maize can be grown in a year.
The seed rate is 20-25kg/ha and the spacing is 75cm by 25cm or 90cm by 20cm thinned to 1 plant per hole or per stand is 2 WAS
Maize has a high demand for nitrogen and this often the limiting nutrient in maize production.
Thus maize should be fertilized adequately especially the hybrids to enable them to reach their fullest expression.
The recommended dose is 120kg N 60 kg P2o5 and 60kg K2o per hectare split applied at sowing or 2WAS and at 4weeks after application.
Incorporate the fertilizer into the soil and cover
Usually as with other cereals it is only the N that is split applied while whole of P and K are applied basically
It is important to return crop residues of the previous year into the soil where sorghum is to be planted.
It is also important to grow sorghum in rotation with legume crops to provide natural soil enrichment.
It is recommended to apply 5-10 tons of farm yarm manure in order to improve soil nutrients texture and structure
Maize does not require waterlogged sites. The sites and soils should be well-drained
Maize requires adequate water to increase yield.
Rainfall requirement ranges from 600-1000mm depending on the varieties to be planted.
Maize does not require waterlogged sites. The sites and soil should be well-drained.
Precautions must be followed to ensure the safe use of pesticides.
Even after use the empty containers must be disposed of very well by burying them.
Instructions as stated on the label of the pesticide must be followed while only trained personnel should apply a pesticide at the recommended rate.
The personnel should also wear protective clothing during application of pesticide.
The crop is mature when the kernels reach the hard dough stage
A time of physiological maturity is when there is a black layer at the point of attachment of the grain to the cob.
Maize is generally picked by hand in most parts of the country but in large scale agriculture it is usually harvested mechanically which also shells the cobs at the same time.