History and economic importance. Maize (Zea mays L.) of the Gramineae family, locally makai or makka, is an important kharif fodder crop (Fig. 15.5). The maize plant was unknown to the people of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent before it was introduced in the era of the Mughal Emperor Jehangir. It is generally agreed that maize was first brought to our area from Central America. Some people, however, are of the view that China is its native land. Now it is a universal crop and is being cultivated in almost every corner of the world. It holds a unique position in American agriculture.
Climate and soil. Maize is adaptable to widely varying climatic and soil conditions. However, it performs poorly under high temperature and low humidity conditions which damage the foliage and interfere with proper pollination, resulting in poor grain formation. It is extensively sown in the irrigated and rainfed tracts of Punjab. In the hilly areas of NWFP it is a major grain crop. In Sindh it is only cultivated for fodder. Well-drained, clay loam to silty loam soils are suitable for its successful cultivation.
Seedbed preparation and manuring. The seedbed is prepared by ploughing and planking three times to eliminate clods and weeds. Fodder maize shows a remarkable response to the application of nitrogen fertilizer. Drill 2Vz bags each of DAP and urea per hectare at sowing. Apply 2V2 more bags of urea when the crop reaches a height of 1 Vz-2 ft. Seed crops should be given 2.50 kg Nand 125 kg P205 per hectare.
Seed rate and method of sowing. For a fodder crop, 75-100 kg/ha of good-quality seed is sufficient. In Sindh, however, a seed rate of 250 kg/ha is commonly used to get a thin- stemmed, dense, tender crop which. commands a higher market price. For a seed crop, 30-40 kg seed per hectare should he sown in lines 76 cm apart by drill. It is also sown as a crop mixture with cowpea, soybean, mung bean bajra, or sorghum. Such crop mixtures provide nutritive and balanced fodders.
Sowing time. The optimum time for sowing fodder crops ranges between the first week of March to the middle of September, Seed crops do better if planting maize done in the last week of July in. irrigated areas. In rainfed areas, planting is done with the onset of the monsoon.
Interculture and weeding. Fodder crops hardly require hoeing, but seed crops should he hoed once or twice with a bullock or tractor-drawn cultivator to keep the crop free of weeds.
Irrigation. Generally three to four irrigations arc required for fodder crops, and four to six irrigations for seed crops; depending upon the amount of rainfall.
Pests and diseases. The maize borer is the most serious common pest afflicting maize. It can be protected by applying 25-kglha of Furadan 3% at sowing or with the first irrigation. It can also be treated with Sevin 85% dust @ 2 1/2 kg/ha or sprayed with Sevin 50% Wettable Powder at 250-375 g/ha.
Gram gives three cuttings of fodder when planted in March in irrigated areas. It is in the final stages of testing.
Time of harvesting. fodder crops arc harvested at the pre-tasseling stage, but grain crops should be harvested when the outer sheath of the cobs gets dry.
Seed production. Seed crops should be irrigated at the flowering and grain-formation stages. Any delay in irrigation at these stages can affect yield.
Varieties. Three yellow cultivars (“Akbar’, ‘Ncclurn’, and ‘Sultan’) and one white type (‘Sadaf) are generally recommended both for grain and fodder for spring planting and early maturity, variety agaiti-72’ is used.
Yield. Fodder yield varies from 60-75 t/ha, and a seed return of 2 1/2 t/ha is common.