EDUN SEGUN CHRISTOPHER
Maize, also known as Corn is one of the most useful cereal crop in West Africa. Food made out of maize is very nutritious. It is an important source of carbohydrate, protein, iron, vitamin B, and minerals. And it is known to digest very quickly. Most Africans tend to consume maize mainly as a starchy base in a wide variety of porridge, pastes, grits, and beer. The Green freshly harvested maize cob is eaten either roasted or boiled.
In many Western countries maize is used mainly for industrial products processing. They also use it for manufacturing of animal feeds or as straight Livestock feeds. Whichever way it is used, maize is the most important cereal crop in Africa with rice and wheat which make up the three most important cereal crops in the world.
Maize is very simple to cultivate and easy to maintain. And it takes small capital too. Maize matures very fast, within 2-5 months of planting the crop is ready for harvest, depending on which stage you want to harvest your crop.
Maize grows in a wide range of soil types, almost every part of Nigeria can grow maize on their soil. With the use of Hybrid Seeds and mechanized system of farming, yield of maize can reach up to 10.2 tons per hectare, with traditional African type of cultivation, production is 2.1 tons per hectare which isn’t too bad anyway.
Here are simple steps you need to take to cultivate, harvest, and sell maize in your area this season; and if possible, cultivate and sell in large quantity to make more money.
First, you will need a fertile land. As mentioned earlier, maize can be grown on virtually all lands in Nigeria but it performs better in a well-drained fertile loamy soil. Look for land that is predominantly loam. If you can lay your hands on forest land, that will be very good because corn perform far better without fertilizer on forest land. The reason may be due to the decomposed leaves from the forest trees. Clear the land using manual laborers or mechanical means, the bottom line is to remove the weeds and keep the soil loose for proper maize seedbed and ensure the preservation of the topsoil.
Then Make sure you plant your maize seed as soon as you clear the soil to allow the maize grow ahead of weeds. Delay in planting will expose the maize plant to competition with weeds. If possible, look for recommended Improved Verities of maize to improve your yield. You can get useful information on seed varieties that suit your purpose from your State and Institution’s Agric departments. Give space of about one feet to one and half feet from and between each plant. Planting is best by early April to the first week of May, sometimes up to late May, depending on how early the rain started and the intensity.
You may not need fertilizer if the soil is quite fertile. However, the application of fertilizer will aid the crop to yield more. You may apply animal dung (especially poultry droppings) or composed manure, if available, at the late stage of land preparation. NPK 25-10-10 at the rate of between 200kg to 600kg (i.e. 4 to 12 bags) per hectare in two split doses (i.e. 70kg to 200kg at planting and 130kg to 400kg 5 to 6 weeks later) depending on the nature of land and variety of maize, can be recommended. You should consult appropriate Agric departments and/or experienced farmers for information on the type and quantity of fertilizer that suit your purpose.
The next thing to think of in maize production is weed and pest control. This can be done manually and/or chemically. For manual method, you can start the first weeding on your maize farm from 15days after planting and not later than 25days or as soon as you begin to notice the growth of weeds in your farm. A second weeding may be necessary before the second application of fertilizer (if there is need for second application of fertilizer), many farmers don’t apply fertilizer twice. You can also use herbicides such as Atrazine pre-emergence at the rate of 3kg ai/ha on a clean seed bed. In case you notice any sign of pest attack on the crop, you should seek expert advice on the appropriate control measures.
After all these has been done, next is to wait for the maturity of your corn for the harvest to begin. I don’t want to emphasize on the profit of maize produce because you and I know that there is huge profit and benefits in every farm produce.