Maize is one of the oldest and widely cultivated world ‘s cereals.It provides food for man and feed for livestock.In many parts of the west Africa,this is a sample food and is sometimes grown on a garden scale where it cannot be grown as a farm crop.
It is an important source of carbohydrate and if eaten in the immature state ,it provides useful quantities of Vitamin C.The yellow grain varieties also contain Vitamin A.
How To Start Maize Production In Nigeria:
Before you start maize production in Nigeria you must consider the following
maize requires a wide range of well drained soils,sandy loam to clayey loam which are rich in humus and plant nutrients.The soil should be alkaline or almost neutral. maize does poorly on heavy soils,sandy or gravelly soils.
It requires a minimum temperature range of 10 degree and a maximum of about 46 degree , hence it has a very wide temperature range.The good performance of maize does not depend so much on the amount of rainfall but on the distribution .
It does best where there is an even distribution of between 75 to 150 cm per year.Maize has a very low ability of extracting water from the soil,so it must have steady water supply during its critical growth period .Otherwise the performance and crop yield will be very poor.maize can do well with early morning mist ,drought lead a very poor crop yield.
The land is cleared,burnt and tilled to a depth of about 22 cm .The top 2.5 cm is then worked to a fine tilt.lime is applied where necessary,at least 2 weeks before planting and at minimum rate of 575 kg per hectare .If the land is on a slope ,ridge across the slope and put in cross bars.
Maize may be sown on the flat or ridges or on flats and ridged up when plant is 60 cm high .The last method gives it firmer hold in the soil. you may sow on top of the ridge or you sow in staggers .If sown on top of the ridge spacing is 45 cm and if staggered it is 30 cm on 90 cm apart ridges.
If maize is drilled on the flat the spacing is about 25 cm on 1 cm apart rows and after about 2 weeks of germination , ridges are built to avoid lodging .Sow 2.5 cm to 3.5 cm deep .Plant populations vary according to the the fertility of the soil in the particular area in the country ,in Nigeria there is an average population of 35,000 plants per hectare.
Seed Rate And Seed Treatment:
Usually the seed rate is 23 kg to 30 kg per hectare , about 3 to 4 seeds per stand .If you are to drill ,you use 12 kg to 18 kg per hectare .Thin down to two plants per stand within three weeks of planting.
Maize cannot stand competition with weeds and therefore requires about two to three times of weeding.The first weeding is at about three weeks of germination, and at this time light cultivation is done to earthen up the maize stands to avoid lodging and the replacement of ungerminated seeds is done.
After every heavy rain,it is advisable to earthen up if you plant on ridges to avoid exposure of the roots.
Fertilizer Requirement And Application:
Maize is particularly sensitive to any imbalance of nutrients.It has a high demand for humus .A decline in the humus content of the soil will result in a corresponding decline in the maize yield .
In eastern Nigeria the most recent recommendation is 40:10:40 applied 2 to 3 weeks after planting at the rate of 390 kg per hectare followed two weeks before tasselling by 130 kg to 260 kg per hectare of sulphate of ammonia and in the northern zone, higher amounts of phosphorus are required.The fertilizer is applied in a ring of 10 cm radius and 2.5 cm deep round each stand.
Harvesting And Storage:
Maize can be harvested dry or green .But the majority of maize in the west Africa is harvested green for consumption .In many part of the world ,maize is harvested green for silage,if maize is wanted green ,it should be harvested soon after the silk has turned brown and if you want to harvest dry, you should harvest when the silk has been completely dried up and leaves and husk are also dry.Sun dry or tied over a fireplace to dry as is done in most of our local areas.
Before Storage, early maize harvested between May and August and late maize between November and December.The maize is properly dried and then packed or tied over the fireplace as in the case in most West African countries.
A Silo is ideal after drying or the drying can even be completed in the silo,Weevils and other storage pests can be controlled with suitable insecticides e.g Phostoxin.
The maize production can often bring a lot of profit, and if you are into agriculture, you should definitely try to make money off it. Some people who reside in rural areas actually make their living of this business. However, it depends on the situation – sometimes it is less profitable than usual, especially this year when there is more and more imported maize in Nigeria, and the prices for local maize keeps falling. It all depends on how much production you will be able to sell.
Prior to everything else, you will have to gain some knowledge about how planting works and put a lot of effort in your maize growth. If everything is done right, in the end, it will definitely be worth it.