Crop Management Guide -
Maize is an ideal forage crop grown throughout the country. It is quick growing, high yielding and provides palatable and nutritious forage which can be fed at any stage of growth without any risk to animals. Maize produces good quality herbaceous fodder with high digestibility. On an average, it contains
- 9-10% crude protein,
- 60-64% neutral detergent fibre,
- 38-41% acid detergent fibre,
- 28-30% cellulose and
- 23-25% hemi cellulose on dry matter basis when harvested at milk to early-dough stage.
- It can be fed as green or dry and makes excellent silage.
- Well-drained, leveled and fertile loamy soil with neutral to slightly acidic reaction is best suited for growth of maize.
- It is susceptible to water stagnation and moisture stress.
- One operation with soil turning plough followed by two cross harrowing and leveling are adequate to get a weed free and leveled seed bed
Soil and its preparation
- In irrigated areas, last week of February to last week of March is the appropriate time for summer sowing.
- Rainy season crop is sown with the beginning of rains in June-July.
- In eastern and southern parts of the country, rabi crop is sown in October-November particularly.
- However, in hills, sowing is taken up in May which provides fodder during July-August
- Maize is a bold seeded crop and hence, the seed rate of the crop depends upon the size of the seed.
- Normally 12 to 15 kg per Acre and 25 to 40 kg of seed rate is recommended for optimum plant stand in a hectare.
- The seed should be sown in lines spaced at 30-40 cm.
Seed rate and sowing method
- Maize is inter-cropped with cowpea and it is preferred in entire growing tracts.
- For intercrop, 30 kg maize + 20 kg cowpea/ha should be sown in paired alternate rows
- For fodder field should be manured with 12-15 t/ha FYM and 80-100 kg N + 40 kg P O /ha. Half of the N dose should be given at sowing and remaining half at knee high stage of the crop.
- In zinc deficient soils (below 0.56 ppm Zn), 15-20 kg zinc sulphate per hectare should also be broad coasted at the time of sowing.
- For mixed crop, 35 kg N+40 kg P O /ha should be added at sowing time and another 35 kg N at knee high stage of the crop.
- Use of biofertilizer like Azospirillum and Azotobactor with inorganic fertilizer is beneficial. Biofertilizers saves 15-20% of fertilizer nitrogen.
- The maize crop is comparatively more sensitive to excess moisture stress.
- It requires 5-6 irrigations at 10-12 days interval during summer season, 3-4 during winter and 1-2 during rainy season.
- In excess rainfall areas, proper drainage facility should be assured.
- In areas, where water stagnation is more than 15 days, ridge planting should be done.
- Maize suffers due to weed menace in early growth stage of 35-40 days. During this period, crop should be free from weeds for better plant stand and subsequent growth.
- At 3-4 weeks crop stage, hoeing with weeder cum mulcher controls the weeds effectively.
- Pre-emergence spray of Atrazine @ 0.75-1.00 kg a.i. /ha in 600 litres of water ensures effective control of weeds.
- In maize downey mildew, bacterial stalk rot and brown spot are important diseases.
- Downey mildew, which can easily be identified with symptoms like narrow, chlorotic or yellowish stripe, later developing in brown lesions.
- The disease is seed borne and may be controlled by seed treatment with Thiram @ 2g/kg seed.
- The bacterial stalk rot in which plant shows rotting from base of stalks upward or from the top downward can be controlled by soil trenching with bleaching powder@ 3g/10 L water.
- The brown spot in which lower parts of plants appear slightly bleached is caused due to water stagnation; draining of excess water controls the disease.
- For avoiding the disease & insect-pest attack, clean cultivation, healthy seed and seed treatment are better option.
Disease and insect- pest management
- The crop is ready for harvest at silk stage (60-75 DAS) for fodder purpose, which continues up to milk stage.
- The early harvesting though produce good quality fodder but yield is reduced, whereas the fodder quality is adversely affected due to late harvesting.