How to plant maize and get good harvests.
Maize is the one of the most widely grown cereal in the world under a range of ecological conditions. It consists of different species,colors, texture, grain shapes and sizes. White and yellow are the commonest and most preferred species in Africa.
Maize is a warm weather loving crop that grows in temperatures of 15.6 degrees Celsius and above. It grows well in areas receiving annual rainfall from 60cm to 300cm. It may however tolerate an annual rainfall of 250cm to400cm provided the field does not get flooded as water logging is hazardous for the crop at any stage.
Maize requires deep, fertile, well drained soils rich in organic matter. However, it can be grown on any type of soil ranging from deep heavy clay to light sandy soil. The soil should be of good texture and of high water holding capacity.
How to Sow
• During planting,put 2-3 seeds per hole depending on the variety and space at the depth of 2-5cm where sufficient moisture is available to enable germination.
• Use line sowing method as it is the best for carrying out of agricultural practices such as inter cropping.
• Note: Avoid using deep sowing for it affects germination and growth, however during dry zones, deep sowing is recommended for uniform germination.
Maize varieties are categorized into two; open pollinated varieties and hybrids. Open pollinated varieties include; Longe 4, Longe 5, MM3 while hybrids include; Pannar, DH04, H520, H513, Salongo, Kayongo Go 7H-1R,, H623, H624,H626 and H614D
The table below shows the varieties of maize, their seed rate, yield per acre, spacing and maturity period
VARIETY DESCRIPTION SEED RATE YIELD/ ACRE SPACING MATURITY PERIOD
Longe 4 High quality maize 10kg 8-20 bags 75cm by 60cm
90cm by 60 cm when intercropping 100-105 days
MM3 Resistant to MSV, NLB and GLS 10kg 13-18 bags Same 90 days
Longe 5 quality protein maize (double lysine 10kg 20bags Same 75cm by 25cm when planting one seed 115days
Pannar Resistant to all maize diseases that are common
Big grains with good milling ability
Drought resistant 10kg 39 bags 75cm by 60cm/ 90cm by 60cm when intercropping 120
Salongo Quality protein maize (double lysine and tryptophan levels)
Resistant to GLS, MSV and NLB
Resistant to lodging
The flour is tasty there it is good for milling 10 kg 29- 36 bags Same 120 days
Resistant to MSV, GLS and NLB
Good for boiling and has a sweet taste
Good for roasting 10 kg 36 days Same 120 days
Longe 7H drought resistant
good for posho
MSV, GLS, NLB resistant 10 kg 37 bags Same 120 days
Longe 10H good for roasting
resistant to MSV, NLB,GLS
Erect leaves and good lodging resistance
resistant 10 kg 42 bags Same 120 days
DH04 short and drought resistant
good for low to medium altitude zones 10kg 24bags same 80days
H520 Resistant to foliar diseases and pests
Performs best in altitude of 1200- 1800m 10kg 32bags Same 120 days
Pests and Diseases that affect Maize
• The adult moth lays eggs on the stalk which later hatches into larvae which then bores into the stem thus inhibiting translocation
• Timely planting
• Crop rotation
• Use of chemicals like cypermethrin 5% EC where the above practices have failed.
• Use organic fertilizers like farmyard manure, chicken litter, and others by spreading it onto the garden 1-2weeks before planting.
• Apply inorganic fertilizers like DAP, N.P.K, SSP and TSP at 50kg/acre using 1soda lid per hole and cover with little soil.
• The seeds should not be in contact with the fertilizer as this may lead to poor germination or failure of seeds to germinate.
• Top dress with urea at the rate of 50kg/acre when maize is at3-4weeks or knee height or between 6-10 leaves
• Spread urea with in rows and cover with little soil. Best results are obtained when the soil is moist. Avoid putting urea directly on the plant as it has a scorching effect.
Urea can also be used as a foliar feed by mixing 5 table spoons in 20lrs of water and spray every after 2 weeks. Other fertilizers like super green, vegmax, super-gro, and rapid-gro can also be used as foliar feeds.
Maize should be kept weed free in order to avoid competition for nutrients and light between weeds and the crops.
Chemical weed control
• Use of herbicides like 2.4D 720gl/ltr by spraying in between plant and rows only if it’s a pure stand of maize.Only spray when maize is at knee height and above. When spraying, make sure that herbicide mist doesn’t reach the terminal bud of the maize plant as it causes yellowing of the plant plus a set- back in growing.
• Apart from using herbicides, crop rotation helps control weeds in the garden.
To detect that maize has reached its time for harvesting, when it’s still green;
• The grains produce milk when pressed.
Detecting dried maize while still in the field,
• The stalks and the leaves become dry.
• The cobs drop down wards.
• The grains become hard, no milk when pressed hard.
• The outer covering of the cob will become brown [dry].
Note:If fully dried, maize should be treated with preservatives like Malathion dust 2%, Aluminum Phosphide, Shumba super dust.
When using Malathion dust, mix well with the grains on a tarpaulin by using 5 table spoon [50gm]/sac of 90kg and then tie tightly.