Maize farming is the cultivation of maize crop from the stage of planting to the last stage of harvesting, processing and marketing. Maize farming in Nigeria involves growing activities like the planting of the maize seeds, caring for the maize plants and harvesting the maize produce.
Maize is one of the most consumed staple foods in Nigeria, this makes the rowing of maize one of the most profitable farming ventures anyone can do in Nigeria.
Maize is also an industrial raw material. Maize is used by a lot of manufacturers and producers for the production of maize grits, flour, starch, glucose and pap etc.
Steps to take to start maize farming in Nigeria
The following are the steps to plant maize in Nigeria:
- Farmland or Site Selection
- Climatic Requirements
- Soil Suitable for Maize Farming
- Soil Preparation
- Maize Variety to Plant
- Equipment to Use for Maize Farming
- Planting of the Maize Seeds
- Weed Control
- Fertilizer and Manure Management
- Management of Pests and Diseases
1) Farmland or Site Selection
The site or farmland to be used for maize farming in Nigeria should have a suitable soil. The soil should be fertile and rich in the needed nutrients. The site must not be a waterlogged area as maize does not do well in a waterlogged location.
The farmland site should be easily accessible so that the maize produce can be easily evacuated to the market after harvest. Nearness of the farm to market is a key advantage in maize farming.
2) Climatic Requirements
Maize only grows well in areas with tropical climatic conditions. Maize needs a warm area with abundant rainfall. However, irrigation can be used if rainfall is not adequate.
Maize will not do well in cold temperate areas. Maize does not like cold conditions as it will not grow well. Abundant sunshine is also needed for a successful maize farming venture.
3) Soil Suitable for Maize Farming
Maize can be planted in sandy soil, sandy loamy soil and sandy laterite soil. Maize is a fairly rugged crop and can grow in most types of soil, however. It will do well if planted in a loamy soil.
The soil pH should be 5.0 – 7.5. Acidic soil should be amended with limestone or dolomite. Limestone will add calcium to the soil and increase the pH.
4) Soil Preparation
If your farmland is in a forested area, you need to do bush clearing depending on the size of the land. Bulldozers can be used to remove the vegetation on the farmland. However, care must be exercised so that the top soil will not be removed.
Ploughing, harrowing and ridging should also be done. Ploughing can be done severally so that the soil will be loose enough for cultivation or rowing of maize. Ridging may not be needed if the soil is loose.
5) Choosing the Maize Variety to Plant
The most productive maize varieties to plant are the hybrid maize seeds. They are also hardy, they also tolerate pests and diseases better than the open pollinated varieties.
The following are some of the maize varieties you can plant:
a) Dekalb Maize Seeds: DK 920, DK 818, DK 234, DK 777
c) SeedCo Maize Seeds: SC 645, SC 649, SC 651, SC 510, SC 719
d) Premier Seeds: Oba 98 (white, QPM), Oba Super-1 (white), Oba Super-2 (yellow) and Oba Super-3 (white) etc.
e) Open Pollinated Varieties: Sammaz Series.
6) Equipment to Use for Maize Farming
The following equipment can be used for maize farming
- Farm House
- Power Tiller
- Earth Augers
- Weeders etc.
Most maize farmers in Nigeria do not grow their crop under irrigation. However, irrigation can assure all year round farming of maize. It can also significantly increase the yield of maize.
The following types of irrigation can be used for maize farming in Nigeria:
Drip Irrigation: Drip irrigation is the passing of uniform volume of water to the roots of plants. It can also be used for Fertigation and Chemigation. Drip irrigation can siginifcantly increase the yield of maize.
Sprinkler: Sprinklers like spray tubes, rain hoses, center pivots and rain guns spray droplets of water to the surfaces of plants and the soil. They can be used to grow maize when there is no rainfall.
Furrow Irrigation: Furrow irrigation involves passing water to the furrows of ridges or beds. It is a type of irrigation that can be used for maize farming in Nigeria.
8) Planting of the Maize Seeds
You should dig a small hole like 2-3cm deep and should not be more than 5cm and drop one maize seed per hole. The planted maize seeds should be buried.
It is advisable you have an intra-plant spacing of 25 cm and an inter-row spacing of 75 cm when planting maize. With this, the farm will have about 55,000 plants per hectare. If you do 20cm intra-plant spacing, about 66,000 maize plants will be in one hectare of farmland.
Low plant population is one of the reasons of low yield in maize farming in Nigeria.
9) Weed Control
The use of herbicides like Lagon, Paraquat, Glyphosate and Atrazine is the most effective way of addressing weeds problem in maize farming. However, reckless application of pesticides can negatively impact the soil.
- To control weeds with Primextra Gold, apply 250-300 ml per 15 litre sprayer and spray the farmland immediately after sowing of the maize seeds.
- To control weeds with Lagon, apply 250-300 ml and spray the farmland immediately after planting and not later than 1-2 days after sowing of the maize seeds.
- To control weeds with Glyphosate, apply 350 ml per 15 litre sprayer and spray during land preparation.
Plastic mulches and organic mulches like rice husk and straws can be used to cover the surface of the soil to prevent the growth of weeds.
For small maize farms, cutlasses and hoes can be used to remove weeds.
Cover crops like cowpea can also be used for weeds management.
10) Fertilizer and Manure Management
Maize is a heavy feeder so it needs a lot of nutrients. Maize is one of the few crops that need a lot of nitrogen. One hectare of maize farm will need about 8-15 bags of NPK and Urea fertilizers (50kg).
You must bury all the applied fertilizers so that they will not waste away. Soil improver like manure, rice husks and plant materials can also be used for your maize farm. You can also use microbial innoculants.
The drip irrigation system can be used to pass soluble fertilizers to the roots of your maize plants. This process is called Fertigation.
11) Management of Pests and Diseases
Your maize farm may record zero yield if you don’t manage pests and diseases well. Pesticides like insecticides, fungicides, bactericides and nematicides etc. should be used in maize farming to manage pests and diseases.
Some of the common pesticides used for maize farming in Nigeria include Belt Expert, Decis, Ampligo and Tihan etc. These pesticides can be used to tackle the problem of fall army worms.
When the silk of the maize plant turns brown, it is time for harvest of the fresh corn cobs. Fresh corn can be harvested after 50 – 70 days. If you want to harvest your maize as dry grains, this can be done after 85 – 120 days depending on the variety planted.
Mechanised harvesters can be used for the harvesting of maize cobs. Cutlasses, knives and sickles can also be used.
Maize is usually shelled after harvest. Maize can be shelled by hand and by mortised shellers. Maize can be processed pap, starch, ethanol, flour and starch etc. After shelling, the maize grains should be bagged and stored in a clean and dry area. The bags of maize grains usually weigh 100kg.
Silos can be used to store maize grains. Processed maize grains can be sold in the open market, they can also be sold to big industrial users like breweries and food processors.
How Much Does it Cost to Start a One Hectare Maize Farm in Nigeria
The cost to start a one hectare maize farm is detailed below:
- Rent of one hectare farmland: ₦20,000
- Clearing, Ploughing and Harrowing: ₦55,000
- Seeds: ₦50,000
- Planting: ₦10,000
- Irrigation: ₦300,000 – ₦650,000 (Optional)
- Fertilizers and Manure: ₦20,000 – ₦100,000 (Depending on soil fertility)
- Pesticides: ₦20,000
- Others: ₦100,000
FAQ on Maize Farming
a) Question: Can I get high yielding and early maturing maize varieties in Nigeria
Answer: You can get high yielding and early maturing maize varieties from us.
b) Question: Can drip irrigation be used for maize farming?
Answer: Yes, drip irrigation can be used for maize farming. It can also significantly increase the yield of maize plants.
c) Question: Is maize farming profitable?
Answer: Maize farming can be very profitable if good agronomic practices are implemented.
d) Question: When is the peak time for the price of maize in Nigeria?
Answer: The dry season months of December to March is the peak time for the price of maize in Nigeria. During this time, the prices of maize go very high.
e) Question: What is the average yield of maize?
Answer: The average maize farmer does 1 – 2 tons yield per hectare of maize. However, yield can be up to 7 – 12 tons per hectare if hybrid seeds, drip irrigation and good fertilizers and pesticides are used.
f) Question: What fertilizers are good for maize farming in Nigeria?
Answer: Urea and NPK fertilizers are the usual fertilizers used for maize farming in Nigeria. However, fertilizers like humates, potassium nitrate and calcium nitrate etc. can be used for maize farming too.
Should you need any information on maize farming in Nigeria, kindly contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read our latest article on the best time to plant maize in Nigeria.