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Maize is a cereal crop that is grown widely throughout the world in a range of agroecological environment. Maize is the most cultivated grain in the world. There are about 50 species that exist and consist of different colors, textures and grain shapes and sizes. White, yellow and red are the most common types.

The grains are rich in vitamins A, C and E, carbohydrates, and essential minerals, and contain 9% protein. They are also rich in dietary fiber and calories which are a good source of energy. Most maize production in Africa is rain fed. However, in the absence of rain, with a good irrigation system there will be a quality yield.

Planting

The ideal soil for growing corn is well-drained, preferably a sandy loam. Organic matter such as compost, leaves and grass clippings can be added to soil to improve its overall quality and improve drainage, particularly for heavy clay soil. Like most vegetables, corn grows best in soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.8.

For good growth and development, maize should be planted at the right spacing. The recommended spacing is 75cm between rows and 25cm for plants. The planting holes should be about 5cm deep

Watering

Most maize field are rain fed but in a drought season supply can be supplied by an irrigation system. To have a high yielding maize, it requires about 22 inches of water, with a range of 20 to 25 inches. The plant should be watered until the soil is moist. But not in eexcess as excessive watering can cause dropping of leaf.

Fertilizer application.

Maize should be planted on a well drain fertile sandy loam soil. However in a case of fertilizer deficiency maybe due to continuous cropping or overuse of soil, An all-purpose fertiliser containing more nitrogen and phosphorus than potassium helps to ensure healthy growth when applied to the soil before planting. Also Diammonium Phosphate (18-46-0) or commonly known as DAP is the most used fertiliser for planting. It is efficient as the main fertiliser for maize.

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Weeding

Weed control in a maize field can be done be a mechanical method or by the use of chemical herbicide such as glyphosate. Weeds between plant rows are removed generally by mechanical cultivation, while weeds on the rows are controlled by hand hoeing or by herbicides. Weeding the field in the first 6-8 weeks is crucial because weeds compete vigorously with the crop for nutrients and water during this period.

Harvesting

The maize can be harvested after about 90 days though depending on the variety. Maize is matured for harvesting when the leaves and the husks start to dry and turn yellow. It is usually harvested by hand, harvesting the ears. It can also be harvested mechanically, harvesting grain or ears.

written by Ogooluwa Felix, 500 Level FUTA student. twitter: https://twitter.com/OObakulujo