In Nigeria, maize is consumed by a large number of families and households in many different forms. Maize cultivation and farming is done on a small, medium or big scale across the country. It is therefore an important source of income for many Nigerian farming households.
Despite the fact that it comes in a variety of colors, grain shapes and sizes, the popular cereal is mostly accessible for cultivation and consumption in two varieties: white and yellow maize. Yellow maize is mostly utilised for feed and human consumption, whereas the white variety is used for agriculture.
Maize is mostly utilised as animal feed, food grain, popcorn, baby corn, sweet corn and green cobs. Corn flour is also popular.
It is also used as a raw ingredient in hundreds of industrial goods such as oil, starch, alcoholic drinks, food sweeteners, pharmaceuticals, gum, textile, packaging, food cereals, cosmetics and paper.
How to start growing maize
The plants are pretty simple to cultivate, and even if you are a beginner, you will be able to grow them. You may readily protect the decreasing soil grade by growing maize.
When compared to rice, maize farming can save 90% of the water and 70% of the potency. And maize production can be more profitable than rice or wheat growing.
Choose a location
First of all, select a good location. Maize plants grow on soil that has a pH range of 5.5 to 7.5.
It may be grown in a range of soil types such as sandy loams, and clay loams (heavy clay soil is not good for maize farming).
However, the soil must be rich in organic matter and have a high water-holding capacity.
Plants must be exposed to direct sunlight in order to produce more. So, take all these elements in mind while selecting land for maize farming.
Climate prerequisites for farming
Maize plants are planted all over the world, and they may thrive in a broad range of environmental circumstances.
It is a warm-weather crop that does not grow well in locations where the minimum daily temperature is less than 19°C.
The germination process is quicker and less variable at soil temperatures ranging from 16°C to 18°C. In addition, the maximum temperature for maize growing is 30°C to 35°C. The seeds can sprout at temperatures as low as 10°C.
Select a type
You should choose a kind that is widely planted and available in your region. There are several kinds of maize to choose from. The six main kinds are sweet corn, flour corn, popcorn, pod corn, flint corn and dent corn.
Seed should be drilled at a consistent depth and into wet soil.
For maize to grow, soil temperatures should be 8°C first thing in the morning for four to five days. All maize should be drilled in the last ten days of April, but climate will definitely vary by region.
Maize plants, on average, need less water than other crops. Although proper and frequent watering will assist in the growth of healthy plants. The land must have an adequate drainage system to prevent excessive retention for a good maize growing enterprise.
Water gently once a week for a month (during the early stage of this crop). Furthermore, supplemental watering should be provided every 25 – 30 days.
Control of weeds, pests and diseases
Weed management is crucial to the success of a maize farming business. Initially, remove any weeds from the field when plowing and harrowing.
After that, at least two additional hand weeding are required. The first weeding should take place 20 – 25 days after sowing, followed by a second 40 – 45 days later. Mulching can aid in the control of most weeds in the region.
Maize, like many commercial crops, is susceptible to pests and diseases. Corn worm, stalk borer or stem borer, shot bug, pink borer, termites and shoot fly are common maize plant pests.
Harvesting begins when the outer covering of the cobs turns from green to white.
When the stalks have dried and the moisture level of the grain is between 20 and 17%, it is the optimal time to harvest maize.
Maize may be harvested by hand, and machines can be used to separate the seeds.