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Maize (Zea mays)

Plant Characteristics

Maize (Zea mays) is a tall, deep-rooted, warm weather annual grass. A single long stalk will develop from seed. Long smooth leaves are attached at the stem nodes. Seed producing shoots originate from the base of the main stem. The female flowers are borne on the corn 'ear', which arises at a leaf axil near the mid-point along the stem. The flower organs, and later the grain kernels, are enclosed in several layers of papery tissue, termed husks. A mass of long styles (silks) protrude from the tip as a mass of silky threads. These strands are actually the stigmas from the flowers and emerge at the same time the pollen from the terminal tassels is shed. The pollen is wind blown and comes in contact with the emerged silk or stigma.

Most varieties of corn require 100 to 140 days from seeding to full ripeness of the kernels though some kinds will ripen in as little as 80 days. Corn kernels or seeds vary in size and shape in different kinds and varieties. They may be only an eighth inch long and near round in popcorn to a half inch long and a flattened-cylinder shape in some other kinds. The kernel consists of the following: (1) An outer thin covering which is made up of two layers, an outer pericarp and inner testa or true seed coat. (2) The endosperm which makes up near 0.66 of the total volume. This consists almost entirely of starch, except in sweet corn. (3) The embryo, the miniature plant structure that develops into a new plant if the seed is planted and grows. The embryo is near one side of the kernel in most kinds rather than in the middle. It contains most of the oil in corn.

Selection Criteria for Planting Materials

Seeds should have minimum 80%germination and must be free from seed borne pathogens. Always use certified seeds. Seed treatment with Thiram @ 3g per kg seed is recommended.. In the case of hybrids, use new hybrid seeds every year.



  • Ganga Hybrid-1
  • Ganga Hybrid-101
  • Deccan hybrid
  • Renjit
  • Hi-Starch.

Composite varieties:

  • Kissan Composite
  • Amber
  • Vijay
  • Vikram
  • Sona
  • Jawahar

Seeds and Cultivation

Maize can be grown throughout the year at altitude ranging from sea level to about 300 m. Maize grows best in areas with rainfall of 600-900 mm. It requires fertile, well-drained soil with a pH ranging from 5.5-8.0, but pH 6.0-7.0 is optimum.


As a rainfed crop, maize is grown in June-July or August-September. The irrigated crop is raised in January-February.

Seed rate:  20 kg/ha

Preparation of land and sowing

Plough the land three times and prepare ridges and furrows. Dibble one seed per hole at a spacing of 60 cm x 23 cm for the rainy season crop. For irrigated crop, beds are prepared. Here, seeds are sown in lines and earthed up later in to small ridges to form furrows when the crop reaches knee height.

Water Management

Irrigate the crop on the day of sowing and on third day. Subsequent irrigations may be given at 10-15 days intervals

Nutrient Management 

Apply FYM/ compost at the rate of 25 t/ha at the time of preparation of land. The recommended fertilizer dose is 135 kg N, 65 kg P2O5 and 15 kg K2O/ha. Apply full dose of P2O5 and K2O and 1/3 dose of N as basal. Apply 1/3 N 30-40 days and the rest 60-70 days after sowing.

Weed Management

Hand hoeing and weeding on the 21st and 45th day after sowing.

Plant Protection

Need based application of carbaryl is recommended for control of pests

Harvesting and Threshing

Harvest maize crop when husk has turned yellow and grains are hard. Do not wait for stalks and leaves to dry. Remove the husk from the cobs and then dry them in sun for 7-8 days.Then the grains are removed either by beating the cobs by sticks or with the help of maize shellers.

Average Yield

Irrigated Crop:  5- 6 tons/ha (Hybrids)
                           4.5-5 tons/ha (Composites)
Rainfed Crop : 2-2.5 tons/ha (Hybrids)
                           1.5-2 tons/ha (Composites)

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.