3 IMPORTANT STAGES IN MAIZE PRODUCTION THAT COULD LEAD TO COLOSSAL LOSS
So many things have been said about maize farming, maize farming is undoubtedly a staple food crop in most countries of the world.
And have been used as a tool to fight poverty in many rural communities. But a lot could go wrong if farmers are not properly enlightened on some of the basic practices that could help them achieve the desired result in maize farming.
3 Major Reasons Why Some Folks Fail In Maize Farming Which Is Attributed To Human Error and Negligence
The following stages in maize production are very crucial in attaining a high yield maize production but if left unsupervised will dampen the expectation of the maize farmers drastically:
SEED SELECTION AND PLANTING IS ONE OF THE CRUCIAL STAGES IN MAIZE PRODUCTION
Farmers are often advised to seek professional guidance, knowledge, and technical know-how on maize farming before starting.
The use of good hybrid seed is highly recommended whether it’s a medium maturity seed or a long time maturity seed.
The hybrid seed has been treated against any form of weather, insect, or rodent degradation, it has gone through tests and research to withstand most of the elements that affect maize yield i.e. drought resistance, resistance to Striga weeds, etc.
Before you venture into maize farming these indices should be put into serious consideration i.e soil type, soil aeration, soil fertility, and amount of rainfall, climatic, weather conditions are all determining factors in the overall success.
Planting should be done under the strictest supervision even when you are using mechanized planters or machine tools so many things could go wrong ensuring that the operator and the machine are doing the right thing in terms of the maize depth, and spacing that will give the best planting population for high yield.
Many a farmer has been heartbroken upon realizing that their maize was planted wrongly when sparsely distributed with large space in between maize.
This will not only affect weed control, it will affect the overall maize yield per hectare. Because plant population when done properly has a direct correlation with the increase in yield.
Whenever maize planting is to be done maximum supervision is required.
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FERTILIZER APPLICATION AND WEED CONTROL
There has been a continuous decline in the fertility of soils in most parts of Nigeria as a result of consistent use of the soil, poor soil management, and pressure on the available land.
When the soil is fertile, there is absolutely no need to use fertilizer, but this is not attainable in most agricultural lands in Nigeria.
The need to use both organic and inorganic fertilizers becomes a necessity. The application of fertilizers is done based on the soil nutrient requirement.
Based on soil analysis done and recommendations made by a soil scientist. This is the best practice for attaining maximum yield.
In a situation where soil analysis cannot be carried out, the use of basic fertilizers such as NPK and UREA is recommended at different stages of the growth of the maize crop.
Where both NPK and Urea fertilizers are not available due to high cost, and long distances beyond the reach of the farmer.
Then farmers are encouraged to use organic fertilizers which often are the best and safest i.e. compost manure from your livestock i.e chicken, cattle, sheep, and goat’s droppings will perform wonderfully well.
Manual fertilizer application is recommended for the following reasons it ensures that the fertilizer gets to the root of the maize plant, and wastages are curtailed as fertilizers are buried beside the plant to avoid wastage. Although the process of manual fertilizer application could be cumbersome.
For high maize yield, NPK 15:15:15 is to be applied in the first week after germination followed by a second application of 2-3 weeks.
Urea should be applied 6 -8 weeks depending on the soil fertility. Weed before fertilizer application at any split. Ensure it’s about 5-7 cm away from your maize plant.
Don’t expose fertilizer on the soil surface. Always cover the applied fertilizer with soil.
To be successful, maize farming requires constant visits and supervision to your farm.
Getting your farm free of weeds is the best recipe for a bumper harvest. Of course, the weeds will always be there, but how you suppress, eliminate and control the weeds on your farm will stand you out from the rest of the farmers.
The following are reasons why you should avoid weeds on your farm:
Weeds make your farm look bushy, unattractive, and unprofessionalWeeds affect crop yield as well as its general performance.They harbor pests and diseases.They compete with plants for sunlight, water, nutrients, and space. This makes the plants weak and susceptible to attack by pathogens.Some are parasitic, others are harmful when eaten by livestock.Too many weeds will attract other herbivores, especially the nomadic Fulani cattle.
Weeds can easily be controlled through the use of these two basic methods
Manually weeding the grass using handheld implements such as cutlasses and hoes.Or the use of various chemical herbicidesPre-emergence herbicidesPost-emergence herbicides
This herbicide comes in different shapes, colors,s and brand names. The bottom line is to vividly read the instruction on the label on the preparation, dosage, and application of the herbicides.
If you are not clear on how to use a particular herbicide, it is wise to seek the help of an agronomist, professional, or experienced farmer.
Drying of maize
OTHER IMPORTANT STAGE IN MAIZE PRODUCTION IS THE HARVEST AND STORAGE METHOD USED.
Many farmers put a lot of effort into the process of planting, weed control, and fertilizer application, and often forget the final stage of harvest and storage which of course is even more important because it determines the final outcome of your overall profit.
Harvest and storage of maize if not properly supervised could lead to serious colossal loss i.e wastages, spoilage by moisture, theft, and other vices.
Best way to attain a good moisture content for maize storage is usually between 12-14%
Is to stockpile the harvested maize, cut the stalk of the maize by leaning each stalk against each other in a tee-pee-like structure.This allows sun and air to dry the maize cobs to help make peeling away the husks easier.After stocking for a few days or weeks, farmers then remove or peel individual cobs from the stalks and remove the husks.We encourage farmers to use the remaining stalks in a compost mix for their fields in some instances it can be used as livestock feed.Farmers will often further dry their maize cobs in the sun until the kernels feel brittle enough to begin shelling.Shelling is when the farmer removes the kernels from the cobs. Farmers sometimes use knives, their hands, or round tools called “shellers” for this process.There are other simple farm implements and machinery for this purposeFarmers are often advised to make sure their kernels are completely dry before storing them. Many farmers will lay their kernels out in the sun to dry for a few days following shelling.By completely drying the kernels, farmers are less likely to lose grains to rot and the carcinogenic toxin aflatoxin, which is produced by fungi, is less likely to form.We then encourage farmers to store their maize kernels in sealed sacks to prevent rodents and weevils from attacking the grains.
The purpose of any grain storage facility is to prevent grain loss from the following; The weather, Moisture in the air, Rodents, Birds, Insects, Microorganisms, and thieves.
Maize should be dried in the field as much as possible to ensure that it reaches a safe moisture level and can then be stored properly.
Once the products have reached the safe moisture content, they can be stored permanently.
There are various ways to store maize products depending on the duration of storage and relative humidity of the outside air during the period of storage.
For storage during the wet season ensure that the store or the warehouse is properly constructed no leaking roof, and no holes for rodents to easily penetrate.
Airtight gourdsPlastic bagsWell-closed metal drumsAirtight and waterproof silosAn underground pit that is made air- and water-tight Airtight and waterproof container for storage during the dry season