Maize in India ranks fifth in total area and third in total production and productivity. The level of production has to be raised because of substantial demand as food, feed, and poultry feed. Maize can successfully be grown as kharif, rabi and zaid crop.
Presently, the maize crop is grown in 20-30% irrigated conditions only. Varieties: Mostly maize is grown during the rainy season. Some cultivars require 60-70 days to mature; others require 100-110 days to mature. Grain color also varies from yellow to orange to white. Mainly flint types are preferred.
Very sandy soils rapidly respond to management practices than those that are fine-textured. The intermediate texture of loam to silt loam in the surface horizon and little higher content of clay as silt loam to silty clay loam in the subsoil is the most ideal. Soil pH of 7.5-8.5 supports good crop growth, as the crop is grown under rainfed conditions it is important that soil must have good water holding capacity, with a proper drainage system to avoid water logging conditions.
Seed rate and sowing time
About 50-60 kg seed would be needed to sow one hectare. Seed should be grown 5 cm deep into the soil for good germination, seedling growth, and vigor. Transplanting should be avoided as the plant cannot cope up with the main crop stand. It is preferred to sow 10-15 days before the start of rain which will give a 15% higher yield.
Manures and fertilizers
A balanced application of 60-12 kg N, 40-60 kg P and 40 kg K/ha is recommended. Early maturing varieties require less quantity than full-season maturity crops. It is also advisable to apply 20 kg zinc sulfate/ha along with a basal dose of fertilizer. One-fourth of nitrogen and the entire quantity of phosphorus, potassium, and zinc should be applied 5-7 cm deep before sowing. The rest of the doses are applied at the knee-high stage and after the emergence of flag leaf but before tassel emergence.
A population of 65,000-70,000 plants/ha at harvest is optimum for realizing higher yields. For attaining the desired level of plant density, a row to row and plant to plant spacing of 75 cm × 18 cm or 60 cm × 22 cm should be maintained.
To ensure high and stable yield, it is desirable to give 1 or 2 irrigation at critical stages. Flowering and grain-filling stages are most critical; the crop should be irrigated at these stages if rain fails.
Short-duration varieties of pulse crops, oilseed crops and vegetables can successfully be grown as intercrop. A ratio of 2 rows of maize with 1 row of other desired crop can be adopted.
In absence of irrigation, the crop can be harvested at any stage, at pre-flowering it can be used as fodder, and at dough stage green ear and stover may be used for cattle. For fodder purposes, the milk to early dough stage is preferred for higher yield and protein content. For silage, late dough stage is preferred.
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