Mealie meal (maize) is a protein- and calcium-rich food crop that grows well worldwide, particularly in South Africa. The cultivation of maize has become a profitable vocation that allows farmers to sustain their families.
However, maize farming is quite difficult, and you must master some techniques before you begin. The cultivation of maize needs a substantial amount of land and labour. Most new farmers failed because they were unaware of the difficulties involved.
A farmer may launch a maize farm business utilizing savings, loans, or investment cash. The initial stage is to evaluate the available resources, followed by planning. After identifying your strengths and shortcomings, you should seek strategies to develop your abilities. Lastly, have a good business strategy before launching. If you adhere to these procedures, you should be able to establish a lucrative maize farming enterprise.
In otherwords, everything you need to know about growing maize will be revealed in this post. In addition, you’ll get some insider information on achieving the same level of success as the professionals, so without further ado, let’s get started!
What Is Maize Farming?
Maize is the grain generally referred to as corn or maize. Corn refers to a kind of grain indigenous to North America. It is the world’s fifth most common food crop, behind rice, wheat, potato, and sugarcane.
Maize farming is the production of maize or corn for sale on the market to generate a profit. In recent years, maize has become one of the most popular meals in African countries.
Furthermore, maize produces more than 160 million metric tons of dry matter yearly, making it the fifth most important crop in the world. According to research, global maize output in 2020 was 1,162 billion metric tons. The global output of maize climbed from 313 million tonnes in 1971 to 1,162 million tonnes in 2020, at an average yearly growth rate of 3.06 per cent.
In addition, maize farming involves planting seeds of maize in the fields, controlling weeds, and, if required, providing irrigation infrastructure. Farmers utilize tractors to cultivate the soil, plough it, add fertilizer, and harvest the crops.
There are almost fifty species of maize around the globe, each with distinct forms, sizes, and hues. The earliest documented cultivation of maize occurred in Mexico, approximately 6500 BCE. Approximately two thousand years ago, maize arrived in South America through Central America, with early farmers producing wild and cultivated types.
Due to its great nutritional content, maize was introduced to Europe through Spain and Greece in approximately 400 AD. By the 14th century, maize cultivation had expanded across the Americas.
In addition, several attempts have been undertaken in recent years to enhance maize breeding programs by encouraging hybridization and the selection of top genotypes. Additionally, genetic modification has enhanced maize genetics, resulting in increased yields and decreased pest and disease susceptibility. The yield of modern maize hybrids is roughly 2.25 times that of ancient maize types from the 17th and 18th centuries.
The Secrets And Strategies To A Successful And Profitable Maize Farming Business
Are you committed to finding success in your maize farming endeavours? The most critical things to consider are listed below.
- Choose The Appropriate Planting Season
Maize is ideally planted between February and March. Maize grows best at temperatures ranging from 15 to 30 degrees Celsius (59 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit). The plant’s germination rate reduces when temperatures fall below ten °C (50°F). Before the ground freezes, maize should be sown. Damage may occur if a frost comes after the seeds have sprouted.
- Select High-Yield Seeds
Any farmer who wants to be successful in growing maize should go for a maize hybrid that produces a significant amount of grain per plant. In other words, seeds need careful selection before planting. Pick high-yielding types of seeds if you want your harvest to be as large as possible.
When choosing a seed, you should pay attention to the kind of ear and the form of the kernel. These qualities affect the size of the ears as well as their quality. Examine the kernels to see if they are white, yellow, or red.
The sugar content of white kernels is much greater than that of other colours. Yellow kernels have a greater protein content than their white counterparts, making them the more desirable option for grinding. Iron and zinc are found in relatively high concentrations in red kernels.
- Use The Right Thining Strategies
Thinning contributes to a healthy establishment and early maturation. The spacing between maize plants should be 20–40 cm (8–16 inches). Thinning decreases competition between plants and improves their air circulation. Additionally, thinning promotes consistent stand development and early blooming.
- Chemical Application
As in the case of maize, fertilizer contributes to the development of crops. The chemical must be sprayed on maize after planting to promote rapid growth.
The maize plant should be treated with a pesticide for at least four weeks after planting, and the third treatment should be made eight weeks later. You only need to apply the second chemical treatment every eight weeks. Thus I will urge you to do so during week six.
- Use The Recommended Agricultural Spacing
When it comes to agriculture, each desired spacing is given greater weight. If you don’t pay attention to how far apart your maize is while planting them, you’re going about it all wrong.
The ideal distance between plant stands is 25 centimetres, while the distance between rows may range from 50 to 75 centimetres.
However, hybrid seeds need a different spacing than traditional seeds. Planting crops manually or with a tractor requires more knowledge in farming; depending on the size of your field, you need to employ either a manual or a tractor planter. This may be more efficient and cost-effective than planting by hand or with a tool.
- Keep The Farm Clear Of Weeds
Weeds are unwanted plants that grow in places they shouldn’t, like between our plants. To stop weeds, you should use the right weed control methods.
Weed control begins as soon as the seeds are planted. Weeds try to steal water, sunlight, and soil nutrients from crops. Weeds and their growth are cut down by early cultivation. When weeds start to flower, they send out pollen carried by the wind. I recommend using herbicides and till the soil before planting to reduce these effects.
- Drip Irrigation
Drip irrigation uses emitters to provide tiny quantities of water to each plant. Depending on how long each emitter is placed on a plant, plants might get varying amounts of moisture. This strategy is perfect for plants that need a steady moisture supply throughout the day.
- Harvest At The Right Moment
You will harvest either fresh or dried maize, depending on the preferences of the customers you are trying to attract.
On the other hand, maize is harvested for eating in its new form. After 150 days, harvest the maize once it has been dried for grain production for a superior shell. One possible justification for this is to protect against financial losses brought on by the maturation of plant toxins during the stage.
Frequently Asked Questions
In this section, I am going to examine the most commonly asked questions and provide you with the answers to those questions. So let’s get started!
How Can I Become A Successful Maize Farmer?
To become a successful maize farmer, It would be best if you began by asking yourself what your goals are. Do you wish to operate a small-scale commercial enterprise or make a livelihood by producing corn? Before proceeding, you should determine the optimal fit for yourself.
If you choose the commercial path, you must maintain track of your funds and ensure you have at least six months’ worth of expenses. If you go for the little farm, you may not need to worry about running out of money. However, you may need financial assistance to get started.
Additionally, I suggest beginning with a large-scale farmer willing to assist you in getting started. These farmers tend to be more accommodating if you need assistance.
To begin growing maize, you will need equipment. Your first step will consist of purchasing seeds or seedlings online. If you have the time, you may visit nearby farms to see their crops. After deciding on the seeds to utilize, you are ready to plant them in the ground. However, before planting anything, you must soak the seeds overnight. Soaking helps seedlings drain water and prevents mold growth.
Next, you should space your seeds 2 inches apart in rows. If you don’t have enough space to plant seeds, you may buy starter cubes or mini-plots, containers containing many seeds that enable you to cultivate multiple plants in the same space.
After planting your seeds, you must wait for them to sprout. You may take care of other areas of the farm in the meanwhile. When you see the seedlings emerging, you may trim them out. Thinning increases plant growth and decreases competition between plants.
The thinning process involves removing weeds from the center of each seedling. Thus, only two or three robust plants will survive.
When the plants reach the appropriate size, it is time to harvest! Corn is harvested by manually removing the kernels off the cob. A corn picker may save you a significant amount of time and enable you to divide the ears in half. Nighttime harvesting may prevent plant damage and offer you more time to prepare for the following season.
As you continue cultivating maize, you will need to occasionally replace the soil to maintain its quality.
This may be accomplished by buying a bag of potting soil and incorporating it into the soil where the plants were previously situated. You may also rent land and hire someone to add dirt. This way, you won’t have to reposition anything after you’re through.
How Do I Grow My Maize For Optimum Yield?
For good growth and development, maize should be planted as soon as the rainy season starts if you don’t have good water. But the maize should be planted 25 cm between plants and 75 cm between rows. Don’t forget that the hole for planting should be about 5 cm deep.
How Profitable Is Maize Farming?
Maize is the main source of food for millions of people all over the world. As such, it contributes significantly to sustainable development. It is also a great crop for dry-land cultivation.
Each year, American farmers produce over 80 million tons of maize worth $28 billion. In addition to being a significant staple food, corn is also the key constituent in ethanol, a gasoline additive; hence, maize production is globally highly profitable.
In addition, maize production expenses are rising annually, yet corn prices have not decreased. This indicates that despite the rise in demand, profit margins have declined despite the doubling of maize output. Consequently, some farmers are reevaluating their crop selections to optimize their profitability.
According to theFood and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), to raise yields by 15 percent, maize farmers in underdeveloped nations must spend around $1,000 a year. The quantity of money spent is contingent on several things. For instance, farmers who use fertilizer and insecticides may spend less than those who do not. Additionally, farmers that utilize enhanced seed types might save up to 40 percent with an annual investment of just $500. Location, management techniques, and rivalry among farmers are different variables that affect farm profitability.
How Long Does Maize Take To Grow?
Growing maize takes roughly 60–100 days to get to the harvesting stage. This is dependent on the climate as well as the variety that you utilize.
What Is The Best Time To Plant Maize?
It is recommended that you start your maize farm during the early planting season since this is when the market and demand are at their peak. The period between the 15th of March and the 15th of May is considered the ideal time for planting. However, it is essential to have a solid understanding of the concept that soil fertility decides whether or not fertilizers are required.
What Is The Difference Between Maize And Corn?
The main difference between maize and corn is that “Maize” is used by the British and “Corn” by the Americans.
The cultivation of maize is an integral component of food supply systems worldwide. Due to its great production potential, maize is frequently planted, cultivated, harvested, and processed into delicacies like cornflakes and tortillas. Additionally, maize offers necessary minerals and animal feed for development.
As a maize farmer, you must select, acquire, store, harvest, thresh, dry, and process your crops. You will also need to safeguard your crops from pests and illnesses. Lastly, you should ensure that your farm is profitable.
However, verify that your ground is appropriately prepared to accept healthy maize seeds at the right time. It would be best if you grew cultivars approved for your zone. Utilize proper spacing during sowing. Apply fertilizer based on the findings of a soil test, adhere to the appropriate techniques, and use treated seeds from a recognized provider. Plan for marketing, processing, and storage from the outset to reduce waste and maximize profits; if you do so and employ all strategies in this article, you will be successful!