How does it feel to buy everything in your home, Are you feeling comfortable by adding everything to the shopping basket including meali which you can grow maize in your home to have? Just think about it, you surely can save a lot of money in a year. All you need to do is to walk with me as I am walking you through all the aspects and details of maize growing stages.
Good growing condition
Just like growing any crop all you need to do first to know the soil condition is to conduct a soil test. This you can do by sampling the soil to the laboratory and in a couple of weeks or so or even less than that you will get results back so you will be informed on what nutrients are lacking in the soil and also to know if the soil is good for the growth of that particular plant, and in this case we are talking about maize so you will have to focus on the conditions that are favorable for the growth of maize. Maize can grow well in well drained soils like sandy and loam
Maize grow best in an ideal temperature of between 18 to 27 degrees Celsius during the temperatures can fall to at least 14 degrees during the day and to a PH of about 5.5 to 6.5 and if the soil is to acidic you will have to add dolomatic lime to neutralize the soil. Adding lime can be done 3 months before the time of planting. The rainfall distribution can be at around 60 to 100 mm. Maize really do best in a humus rich soil so to improve the soil it is wise to add Kraal manure to the soil before or after planting as it is rich in Nitrogen but too much of it can burn the maize during prolonged days of very hot temperatures with no rain.
After having known got the results from the laboratory you are now sure of the best growing conditions for the growth of your maize. Now all you need to do is to till the soil with a hoe or you can even use a tractor. It is very useful to till the soil because by so doing you are actually burying weeds and chemical residues from the previous harvest and also killing insects and parasites.
This can be done well after rain has fell and the soil is completely wet and workable. All you need to do then is to remove all weeds and grasses that seams to be alive and not cut and this can well be done by the use of a tractor through disking the soil miking it a fine tilt so that it will be workable.
After having tilted the soil you can open lines for planting, you can either use the tractor or use the use of a hand hoe, some people also plant by using animals pulling maize planters and this is really one of the most amazing ways of planting because it saves time for opening the lines. The planters do everything at the same time on its own but now we will just focus on how you can plant by your self, doing everything on your own.
Open your lines across the planting field to avoid soil erosion. After having done that you have to make sure your seeds are ready for planting preparing them and inspecting them if they are OK for planting or not.
Seeds can be stored from the previous harvest, all you need to do is to select good and high quality cobs after harvesting pealing out the middle big seeds in the cob and leaving the smaller ones.and store them in an air tight container ensuring that there are no insects like maize weevil that will enter the container and grinding the maize. Before considering to store your maize it has to be dry and with less moisture content on it.
Though I would recommend high quality seeds that are treated to withstand different changing climatic conditions and are also treated from being eaten by insects when they are still on the soil. You really need to conduct your extension officer to know very well about the best maize seeds for your location. The seeds grow and ripe in different times, some are faster to ripen than others so before anything you need to know the type of your seeds.
The best thing to do before you can place the seeds on your lines is to add 2:3:2 fertilizer adding fertilizer to the soil so that when the seed sprouts the root will get all the necessary components to give more energy, fast and healthy growth to the new growth. It can be up to you to either top dress with the fertilizer but that is a disadvantage because it can easily be washed away when there are heavy rains.
Planting The Seeds
After having got your seeds and or prepared them,all you need to do now is to go for planting since you have also prepared the soil and the lines are in good condition for the seeds. Plant your seeds to a depth of 1 to 2 inches deep and a spacing of about 10 cm planting at least two seeds in one area so you will ensure good germination. After they have successfully germinated you will have to you can thin and transplant them again giving them the good and recommended spacing for their growth.
After having planted the seeds berry them slightly at a depth of 1 to two inches ensuring that animals like birds won’t have access to the seeds because once they see them they will eat them and there will be nothing to germinate. It is very important to do this step very well for a 100% seed rate and germination
The Growth Is Tremendous
In a space of about two weeks after having germinated and growing, you will have nothing to do but just to watch the tremendous growth of the young growing and energetic maize plants. The will be having everything they need because you should have top dressed with the fertilizer or applied it on the lines. Please do make sure you scare the birds away from your field by either having something that will make noise or something keeping away from uprooting the maize plants. Birds really can be a problem at this stage of growth.
Weeding And Hilling Your Maize Plants
Your maize needs to be free from weeds, all you need to do is to use a hand hoe or to uproot the weeds, some do use herbicides to kill the weeds in maize like (bladex) which only kills the weeds and leaving the maize to grow. However, it is always best to use the hoe because by so doing you are loosening the soil for the roots to penetrate easily and for the maize to grow well. At this stage of weeding you will also need to hill the maize plants giving them more soil around the roots because as they grow they produce other roots right above to sustain stability when there are heavy winds.
You really need to monitor your plants from being attacked by insects like stalk bore worms and other insects. Stock bore, to treat this you can apply and spray malathion or methomel in the funnel of the maize and by so doing the chemical will penetrate even deeper to where the worm or stalk bore is killing it in the process. After having done that you will see a healthy maize funnel growing from within.
Your maize will grow and when it is about 1.5 meters tall you have to apply LAN fertilizer because it is now closer to the tasseling stage and to lay and bear cobs. At this stage LAN is for the growth and production of seeds in the cob.The maize will tassel cross pollinating each in the process as there will be cobs which will emerge on a side of the stem which will then grow to produce maize seeds and that is what we call a cob.
Ripening And Harvesting
ripening of maize can depend on the cultivar, some seeds take as short as 3 months to ripen up and some can take to up to 6 months to be ready. The only way you can see that the maize is ripe is through feeling the cobs by pressing on the seeds, If the seeds are too easy to press and week then the maize is not ripe, Also you can watch out for the leaves turning yellowish to tell that it is ready. To eat maize you can just boil it and eat some do grind it while wet and make meal bread and it is very nice.
After the maize has ripened up the next stage is to dry up. the leaves will turn pale white and at this stage you have to wait for the maize to be dried completely before you can harvest. If sure do the harvesting by pealing off the cob from the covering leaves which protects it from moisture and birds.