Maize farming is one of the crop farming that is very suitable for Nigerians. It is as old as man itself, and it has been done commercially in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular for decades now.
Maize is perhaps the most common food crop in Nigeria, and also the most important as it is eaten in various dishes and forms the basis for most of the meals prepared by the average Nigerian family.
After cassava the next food crop that is widely and highly consumed is maize, the reason being that it can be consumed in varied forms such as maize flour for confectionaries, semo (for swallow with soup), as corn beef, feed mill (for animals feeding), as roasted corn, boiled or prepared as pottage.
Maize production can fetch a farmer or farming household some reasonable income. Youths with little resources thinking of agriculture have a soft landing in maize cultivation, because it requires minimum capital, low risk of exposure, and has a great propensity for relatively higher return on investment compared to other crops.
Several uses of maize make it a hotcake not only in Nigeria but also worldwide. It has great alternative uses either for humans or animals. Industrial utilisation for ethanol, like cassava, is also emerging in the Nigerian industrial terrains.
Maize production has been made easier through mechanisation. Mechanisation means using modern tools in land preparation, planting, weed management, harvesting and processing.
However, it requires some technical know-how if maximum yield per hectare is to be achieved.
Timing is very crucial in planting maize because it is a water-loving crop.
It requires regular normal rainfalls. Hence, timing matters in yield expectations, the first planting season begins in March or April in the forest ecology, depending on whether rainfall is early or delayed, and the second planting season starts from late June to July.
In Nigeria, the southwest, south-south and south-east geo-political zones are included in this ecological zone. In the savannah or semi-arid regions of the north, planting season that guarantees bumper harvest is around June, except for irrigation facilities. For those looking for agribusiness to invest into maize is good agro produce to farming now with bumper harvest.
How To Plant Maize
Plant corn into the soil 2cm-3cm with a spacing of 25cm x 75cm; 25cm between crops and 75cm between rows. The spacing is rightly done in other for the ‘maize plant’ to form canopy.
You can soak the corn in water a day before planting. This will help the maize to germinate faster. It is mostly carried out with maize that is very hard.
In other to break their dormancy you soak them in water. You need 20kg of maize in a hectare. Maize seed germinates 3-5 days. A hectare will yield between 3-5 tonnes. Although with improve species like the hybrid maize type, one can harvest up to 8 tonnes all things being equal.
Maize cultivation can be successfully done in various soils like clay loam, sand loamy, and black cotton soil. If you want a better yield of maize crop then choose a soil which has good organic matter content with high water holding capacity. In Maize farming, the PH of soil required is between 5.5 to 7.0 (An Agriculture Pedia for farmers, 2018).
If any deficiency occurs it can be covered at the land preparation stage by adding some good organic matter or compost (An Agriculture Pedia for farmers, 2018).Maize require nutrient such as nitrogen, magnesium, sulphur, phosphorous, calcium and potassium.
Maize Farming Stages
Selection Of Farm Land: Choose an accessible well-drained fertile soil where you can grow your maize without too much problem and as well have an access to main road to transport your produce to the market or buyers have access to buy your products.
Land Preparation: A total herbicide of your choice should be applied 10 days before land preparation this will help in controlling the weed at long run and its more economical than using manual labour.
For cost effectiveness and optimum plant population, mechanisation and planting on ridges are recommended as you prepare for planting. For those into mechanized farming the use of drone for spraying of herbicide is advised for cost and effective result.
Soil Conditioning: Soil conditioning if the soil is not fertile enough or you want to boost the nutritional value of the soil. In this case you can use organic fertilizer to that such manure from poultry, Goat, Pig or Liquid organic soil conditioner. When this is done very well you may not require adding much fertilizer both organic and inorganic, Liquid or powdering to the farm much again. If you use AG zyme soil conditioner it has pesticide in it and the issue of pest will be addressed at the early stage.
Ploughing: You can hire tractor to plough the land before planting or you buy hand tractor it is not expensive and it is easy to maintain.
Planting And Planting Materials
• Planting starts in March /April for early planting and July/august for late farming, this is the time you expect bumper harvest.
• Hybrid Maize are used for planting such as SC 649,SC719,SC645 etc for late maize farming with bumper harvest.
• Maintain 100% planting rate by replacing dead seed.
• Tractor or Hand tractor
• Spryer (Drone)
Finally, good maize seeds with traceable sources such as Seed-co; adequate weed control and good land preparation are your sure way for guarantee profitable maize harvest if natural disasters, shortage of rainfall and cattle invasion did not occur.