How to Earn Six Figures Currency from Maize Farming; Maize is a common crop in Africa, and it also has popularity across the globe. It is a delicacy enjoyed by many, and it comes in varieties. Whatever the variety may be, it is always palatable. Aside from being exceptionally edible, it has remarkable health benefits and it can also make you lot of money if you know how to cultivate it in large quantity. In this write-up, you will learn about how to make cool money from maize cultivation.
What type of crop is maize?
Its botanical name is Zea mays, and it can also be called corn. It was first domesticated some 10,000 years ago in Mexico. The fruit grows in the form of a stalk, which produces individual pollens and ears; the fruit is a combination of the seeds and the kernels, with the seeds evenly distributed and earned in a pattern around the kernels; the kernels are not edible. Maize is not consumed raw; it can either be roasted or cooked.
Products derivable from corn and its ready markets
One of the factors that make maize cultivation a money-spinning investment is its versatile applications and ready markets; it can be used in making various products as highlighted below:
It is also called glucose syrup, and it has found application in confectioneries. It is used extensively to soften the texture of foods and to increase volume. It equally prevents sugar crystallization, as well as enhancing food flavor. It is, therefore, popularly used in foods and drinks industries.
It is used as a thickening agent in any liquid-based food, like custard, gravies, sauce, and soup. It is better used in combination with flour in baking. Industries making these items are also ready markets for maize.
This is another ready use of maize, making animal-feed factories ready markets for maize. You can sell your maize directly to these companies making animal feeds or to poultries and the likes.
It is a form of ethanol produced from corn, and it has found use as biomass. It is produced by fermenting the soaked maize, followed by distillation. The final product has also found use as an oxygenating agent in the production of gasoline. It has also found use as fuel in some vehicles. So, the oil and gas industry can act as a ready market for maize in large quantity.
Various types of maize
There are many varieties of maize, but the six major ones are highlighted below
- Sweet corn
- Flour corn
- Pod corn
- Flint corn
- Dent corn
All the varieties are cultivated following the same procedure.
How to Earn Six Figures Currency from Maize Farming
How to cultivate corn
It is not enough to cultivate maize; you must do it the right way so as to get the desired high yield. What are the specific things you must keep in mind when cultivating maize? Some of these things will be discussed below:
A. Soil requirement
Maize can grow effectively on different types of soil; it can grow on clay loam, sandy loam and even black cotton soils. The best soil for high yield cultivation of corn is the type rich in organic matter and having high capacity to retain water. Also, soil having pH range of 5.5 to 7.0 will produce high yield. If you are interested in large scale maize farming, then soil testing before cultivation will be in order; testing the soil will tell you the specific nutrients deficient in the soil and those that are in excess quantity. After detecting the deficient nutrients, you can balance things up by adding compost or good organic matter during land preparation period. Specially prepared fertilizer can also be added while the crop is growing.
B. Best time to sow the seed for best yield
The best period to cultivate crop for best yield in Nigeria is during the rainy season. You can start the cultivation after the first few showers of rain of the year; that is, from April. Maize can be cultivated and harvested several times in a year depending on the type of seed you plant. It is better to go for the hybrid seed, which only requires 72 days from planting to harvesting. Such seeds can be grown up to two times or more in a year. If you plant the first set in April, you can harvest them by the middle of July. If you plant the second set immediately after harvesting the first set, you can harvest them by the end of September. If you can have access to water on your farmland; that is, if you can do irrigation or you are close to a fairly large stream where you can get water, you can plant maize all year long, making it possible to cultivate maize up to five times in a year. That will give you a very high yield each year.
C. Land preparation
First, clear the land of weeds or unwanted plant; this can be done by ploughing the land. You may have to plough the land for up to 6 times to get the land well prepared and ready for maize planting, but ploughing two times can also be enough. You may equally have to add about 14 tons of manure if the soil quality is not up to standard.
D. Seed treatment
Never plant untreated maize seeds if you really want high yield during harvesting; make sure you plant only treated maize. As a result, the seeds can grow and not be damaged by pests. You can visit any of the Agricultural Development Projects (ADP) offices in your state in Nigeria; they sell these treated seeds. You may require up to 11kg of the treated seeds to sow one hectare of land if the seeds are properly spaced. At the ADP centers, the treated seeds are packaged in 2kg, 5kg, 10kg and 20kg bags; the seeds are already treated to prevent fungal diseases, like downy mildew, which commonly affects maize seeds. Aside from preventing fungal infection, the treatment chemicals also contain substances that can help you to fix atmospheric nitrogen in the soil, which will further promote yield of the crop.
E. Plant spacing
For best yield, the seeds are best spaced some 10 cm apart. It is also better to sow two seeds per hole. Do not plant the seeds directly on top of the ridge or at the base of the ridge; instead, plant it about one-third up the side of the ridge.
F. Best choice of fertilizers
As hinted earlier, you may have to apply manure to the soil during soil preparation if the essential nutrient concentration is deficient. Fertilizer is best applied at two periods during maize cultivation; the first set should be applied 20 days (about 3 weeks) after sowing and the next application should be around 40 days after sowing. The first fertilizer application should be with urea, while the second variety of fertilizer to be applied the second time should be composed of Nitrogen Phosphate and Potassium (NPK).
G. Weed control
During its cultivation, maize requires weeding minimum of two times. The first weeding can be between the 20th and 25th day of cultivation, while the second one can be between the 40th and 45th day of cultivation. You will notice that the weeding coincides with periodic fertilization. Be that as it may, it is better to first weed before you apply fertilizer on the 20th or 40th day of cultivation. Instead of hand weeding, you can also do chemical weeding; one of the best weed controllers to use is Atrazin 500 grams. It is best mixed with 1000 liters of water for effectiveness against the weeds.
Nutritional deficiencies affecting maize
Growth and yield of maize plant can be negatively affected if the following nutrients are deficient:
- Magnesium and zinc deficiency, which can be treated by adding zinc sulfate as the basal fertilizer. It manifests by yellowing of the basal part of the leaves.
- Iron deficiency, which manifests by the entire leaf turning yellow. Simple iron-rich fertilizer can put paid to this problem.
Diseases that can prevent high yield
You need to prevent the diseases to be discussed below from affecting your maize plants.
- Downy mildew: The best way to put an end to its prevalence on your farm land is first to remove those plants that are already affected by this fungal disease. After this, wait for about 20 days after planting and spray Mancozeb or Metalaxyl; 1kg of each chemical per hectare of land will be enough to put an end to the fungal diseases.
- Leaf spot: Once this disease is already well established on the plant, you can spray either Mancozeb or Captan.
If you plant treated seeds, the incidence of diseases or infections in maize will be very low. One other common problem with maize plant is shoot fly, which affects the younger plants, and stem borer, which affects the plants between 20 to 30 days after planting; both problems can be put under control by spraying the plant with Carbofuran granules at an early stage after planting the seeds.
The harvesting process
When you notice the outer cover of the crop changing color to yellow from green, then it is time to harvest the maize. You can harvest the crop before the cover turns to yellow completely if you prefer it fresh, or you can allow the entire cover to turn to yellow completely if you prefer to harvest it dry. The harvesting can be done by hand or with a machine. You can equally separate the seeds from the kernels using specialized machines that are made for that purpose.