Simple Steps To Maize Farming In Nigeria
Maize farming is a vital activity that produces maize cobs/grains, one of the most important food crops in Nigeria. Maize is popularly cultivated in the country and can be planted anytime of the year. It’s almost impossible not to consume maize and its derivatives in 72 hours. Maize and corn are same, just that “Maize” is commonly used by the British and “Corn” by Americans. Gardening Channel gave comprehensive differences between Maize and Corn. Despite the acceptability, usefulness and popularity, the yield per hectare is still low in Nigeria.
Make sure you read every bit of this guide to know the simple and easy to follow steps on how to increase your maize production.
Your questions on; How long does maize take to grow? What is the best time to plant maize? How many times is maize planted in a year? Is maize profitable in Nigeria? How profitable is maize farming? How much fertilizer do you need per acre of maize? Which fertilizer is best for maize? etc will be simplified here.
WHY YOUR MAIZE YIELDS ARE LOW?
1. The maize varieties
There are several varieties of maize seeds around. But they are generally grouped into two, Hybrid and Open-pollinated maize varieties (OPV). Examples are Dekalb 920 F1 (Yellow), Dekalb 777 & 234 F1 (White), Sugar King F1, Golden Bantam, Maize Hybrid Seeds Variety (SC 510), Honey King F1 etc. We advise you plant improved varieties that combine drought and striga resistance, with higher yield potential and adaptable to your zone. We also recommend you obtain certified seeds from seed companies, their agents and associations. Try and avoid selected or leftover grains from your last harvest for planting.
2. Leaf eating caterpillars insecta (Lepidoptera)
The common leaf eating pests of maize are Faw Army Worm (FAW) and grasshoppers. FAW is highly destructive. The larvae can destroy more than 340 plant species with maize being the most susceptible. Research shows that about 17.7 million tonnes of maize are lost in many African countries yearly because of FAW. More of its activities have been detected in Oyo, Ogun, Abuja, Nigeria. It prevention usually involves the combination and usage of multiple types chemical formulations.
How to prevent them from damaging maize;
– Deep ploughing before planting to expose and kill the pupae present in the soil to avoid future infestation.
– Maintain proper spacing, hygiene and weed free in the field.
– Avoid water logging and avoid water stress during flowering stage.
– Set up light traps to kill the moths during night.
– Install pheromone traps @ 9 – 10/acre to attract male moths.
– Grow castor along the border as a trap crop/barrier crop.
– Collect and destroy egg masses in the castor and even in tomato.
– Hand pick grown up larvae and kill them.
– Intercropping with Cowpea, Onion, Maize, Coriander, Cassava.
Grow Basil which acts as repellent crop.
– Release predators Chrysoperla, coccinellid beeteles, dragon fly, robber fly, praying mandtids, etc.
– Erect bird perches @ 20/acre for encouraging predatory birds such as King crow, Common mynah, etc.
– Attack should be controlled by applying 1.68 kg active ingredient of Vetox® 85/ha, i.e., 3 standard match box filled to the level per 4.5 liters (1 gal.) of water. Two applications, the first at 2 weeks after planting, and the second 2 weeks after.
– Spray monocrotophos (Azodrin® or Nuvacron®) at the rate of 28 ml/10 litres (2 gals) of water when there is an attach.
3. Low soil fertility
The soil fertility and capacity of many areas in Nigeria are gradually decreasing. Some of the reasons are rapid population growth that puts pressure on land resources. Depletion of soil in macronutrients such as N, P and K, as well as important micronutrients eg copper and zinc etc. So the ground cannot support maize cultivation without adequate application of fertilizers. It’s almost impossible to attain above 1 tonnes/ha without adding fertilizers.
4. Seed viability and treatment
It’s essential to test the maize seed for viability before deciding to plant. Make sure the maize seeds you’ll be planting are well treated with appropriate chemical (powdery in nature) to foster germination. If not, your seeds will be attacked by diseases, pest, birds, even human activities on the farm before and after seed emergence. Many of the chemicals (eg marshal 2% ash) are red, green or pink in colour. For seeds upto 5kg, you will need upto 10g pack of the powder chemical you’re using for treatment. Shake continuously till you notice the seeds are well coated with the powder chemical. Hybrid maize seeds are treated already to save you the stress.
5. Fertilizer application
Application of fertilizers are done based on the soil nutrient capacity. For high maize yield, you can apply 100kg N, 50kg single super phosphate and 50kg muriate of potash. We recommend you split the application. The first split: apply 6 bags (300kg) of NPK 25:10:10/ha within 1-6 days of planting. While the second split, apply about 2 bags (100kg) of urea within 4-5 weeks after planting. Weed before fertilizer application at any split. Ensure it’s about 7 cm away from your maize plant. Don’t exposed fertilizer on the soil surface. Always cover applied fertilizer with soil.
Read also: Improved vegetable production practices
6. Maize diseases
Whether soil-or seed-borne diseases, treating the seeds prior to planting easily controls most diseases. A few pests such as stem borers, and grass hoppers occur occasionally and rarely present any serious challenge. Plant maize early to minimize attack by disease and use recommended varieties that are known to be resistant to the most important diseases. Weed when necessary.
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