Even though it is generally agreed that the maize( Zea mays L) is a natives of the
Americans, yet the views on the date of its introduction into India differ. That maize was
introduced into India by the Portuguese during the seventh century is often quoted, but
the more recent evidence support the possibilities of its Pre-Colombian introduction
through the Atlantic Arabian trade route. The latter evidence is also supported by the
more recent variability that has been observed in the maize collections made from the
north eastern Himalayan region. However, the historic records regarding the cultivation of
maize in India date back only to the Maratha Empire.
Maize is one of the most important cereals of the world. With its world
average yield of 27.8 q\ha maize ranks first among the cereals and is followed by rice,
wheat, and millets, with average grain yield of 22.5, 16.3 and 6.6 q/ha respectively. In
terms of world acreage, India stands only next to the USA, Brazil, China and Mexico, with
regards to production to ranks eleventh countries in order of production are USA, China,
Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, France, South Africa, the USSR, Rumania, Yugoslavia and India.
Maize in India is an important cereal, and both its area and production
have steadily increased during the past two decades. In terms of area and production, it
ranks only next to rice, wheat, jowar and . The states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya
Pradesh and Rajasthan and Punjab account for over 75 per cent of the area and production
of this cereal in the country. Each of the districts of Bahraich, Gonda and Bulandshahr in
Uttar Pradesh; Monghyr, saran and Darbhanga in Bihar; Udaipur and Bhilwara in Rajasthan;
and Panchmahal in Gujarat put annually over one lakh of hectares in maize. These nine
districts account for a quarter of a national area and production of maize in India. Being
an important cereal, over 85 per cent of its production in the country is consumed
directly as food in various forms; the chapatis are the commonest preparation, whereas
roasted ears, popcorn and porridge are other important forms in which maize is consumed.
The use of maize in animal feed, particularly for poultry, and in the starch industry is
increasing. Green maize plants also furnish a very succulent fodder during spring and
monsoon, particularly in northern India.
Climate and soil:
Maize requires fertile, deep and well drained soils. However, it can be grown on any type of
soil, ranging from deep heavy clays to light sandy ones. It is, however, necessary that
the pH of the soil does not deviate from the range 7.5 to 8.5 Maize plants, particularly
in the seedling stage, are highly susceptible to salinity and water . Accordingly the
provision of proper drainage is essential for the successful cultivation of this crop. The
slight sandy soils greatly facilitated drainage, but have a relatively poor water holding
capacity; on the contrary, very heavy soils, with excellent water holding capacity, have
relatively poor drainage. Hence, soils ideally suited for maize cultivation should have
adequate water holding capacity and should also provide for good drainage. Over 85 per
cent of the maize acreage is own under rain fed conditions during the monsoon when over 80
per cent of the annual rainfall is received.
Maize is essentially a warm weather crop. It is grown under extremely
divergent climatic conditions in different parts of the world, ranging from tropical to
temperate regions. It is widely cultivated from the sea level upto altitudes of 2,500 m.
It can be successfully grown where the night temperature does not go below 15.60C (600F).
It cannot withstand frost any stage of its growth. In India, its cultivation extends from
the hot arid Plains of Rajasthan and Gujarat to the wet hills of Assam and Bengal
(receiving over 400 cm of rainfall).
Most of the maize varieties grown in India are relatively early in
maturity (80-95 days); hence to sustain the rapid rate of growth, an adequate supply of
soil moisture is essential. It has been estimated that the maize crop requires about 50
per cent of the total water requirement in a short period of 30-35 days after tasselling.
A lack of adequate moisture during the grain filling stage adversely affects yield. Even
though maize can be grown without additional irrigation in regions receiving about 60 cm
of well distributed rainfall, yet for obtaining the optimum yield, additional irrigations
become necessary when the rain fails.
A good seedbed for maize should be fine but compact, and free from weeds. It is desirable
that the previous crop refuse is buried under with a mouldboard plough. In due course, two
or three ploughings with the wooden plough are given. In case the tractor is used, one
ploughing followed by a couple of diskings is generally adequate.
For kharif cultivation, it is essential that adequate drainage is
provided. It may be provided in the form of very shallow surface drains at 40-50 m apart
(depending on the slope and the texture of the soil) across the slope and connected to
main outlet. Shallow drains do not obstruct the movement of the cattle or tractors during
cultivation. Surface drains should be provided during sowing.
Based on the endosperm type, maize varieties may be grouped into dent, flint, floury, waxy,
amylose, pop and sweet. In India mostly cream yellow to orange flint early maturing
varieties are commonly grown and are put to varied uses, ranging from chapati making, as
poor corn, roasted ears, or as green vegetable to starch extraction. Pop corn and sweet
varieties are grown only to limited extent. 'Malan White' a dent variety is grown in
Kumbalgarh of the Udaipur Division.
Indigenous maize varieties of northern India show limited variation.
With regard to maturity, the maize varieties can be grouped into three categories. Very
early maturity types, maturing in 65-75 days, e.g.
- Sathi, Kathi and teen Pakhi
- Medium early maturing varieties subjected to a limited degree of improvement e.g. 'Basi'
,'KT 41','Jaunpur', 'Rudrapur Local', and
- Late maturing varieties, introductions of contaminated types, e.g.'Malan'. White flint
varieties are also grown in certain pockets of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Maize varieties
cultivated at north eastern high elevations have varied colour mixtures ranging from
white, yellow, red to deep purple.
High yielding hybrids and composites varieties :
the auspices of the All India Co-ordinated Maize Improvement Scheme, eleven high yielding
hybrids ('Ganga-1', Ganga-101', 'Ranjit', 'Deccan', 'Ganga-5', Ganga Safed-2',
'hi-Starch', 'Ganga-4', 'Himalayan 123', 'Ganga-3' and 'V.L. 54') and six composites
('Vijay', 'Amber', 'Sona', 'Kisan', Jawahar' and 'Vikram') have been released for
cultivation in the various regions of the country. Details of the various hybrids and
composite varieties, presently under production, are given in Table below. Seed
Corporation, the Tarai Development Corporation and various state agencies which may be
contacted for their supply. Hybrids and composites are being sold in sealed bags, each
containing enough seed to plant one hectare.
Unlike hybrids, the farmers using composites can save their seed for
the following year. Care should , however be taken that the seed fields have
- The adequate isolation of 300m, that
- Seed from at least 500-1000 plants is bulked to represent the populations, and
- iii. Select the best plants and not the ear.
Three nutritional and superior opaque-2 maize composites, namely
'Shakti', 'Rattan' and 'Protina', have also been released for general cultivation. These
opaque-2 composites are very rich in essential in amino acids, particularly lysin and
tryptohan. The genetic make up of these materials necessitates the cultivation of these
composites in isolation from normal maize. Any contamination of opaque-2 will be apparent
in the form of normal transparent kernels in contrast to the dull marble like appearance
of opaque-2. An isolation distance of 300-400 metres is adequate. With the increase in the
number of border rows, the isolation distance can be suitably reduced. Even in the absence
of isolation, the farmers planting 2-4 hectare can save the seed from the middle of the
yield, whereas the rest of the crop can be used as nutritionally superior grain. Opaque-2
maize will be very useful as a human food.
|NAME OF HYBRID
|'Ganga-5' ||Bold, yellow, semi-flint
||A medium maturing (95-110 days), medium
statured and widely adapted hybrid. Recommended for the northern Plains and Peninsular
India. Resistant to leaf blight and brown strip, downy mildew, stem-border and drought
|'Ganga Safed-2'||Medium, white, semi-flint
||A widely adapted medium maturing hybrid very
popular in white maize growing regions of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan. It is
resistant to foliar diseases and most resistant to bacterial rot.
|'Deccan'||Bold, yellow, semi-flint
||A medium maturing maturing in 105-110 days,
recommended for Peninsular India. Excellent husk cover. Highly resistant to leaf blight
and downy mildew. This hybrid has widely adaptability.
|'Himalayan'||Bold, white, dent
||A medium maturing widely hybrid. It has a high
starch recovery and is preferred by the starch industry. It this very popular in Bihar and
Uttar Pradesh, particularly during the Rabi.
||Bold, yellow, semi-flint
||A medium maturing hybrid
(105-115 days) recommended for high elevations up to 2000m. This hybrids is very popular
for cultivation, at high elevations. Excellent husk cover. Highly resistant of downy
mildew, leaf blight and rust. It is susceptible to stalk rots under water logged
|'Ganga-4'||Bold, white, flint
||A full seasoned hybrid
recommended for the white maize growing in the regions in the states of Madhya Pradesh,
Bihar and Uttar Pradesh particularly in the Tarai tracts. More resistant to downy mildew
and rust. It has been favored for Rabi cultivation in Bihar.
|NAME OF THE COMPOSITE
|'Vijay'||Medium, yellow, flint to semi-flint
||Medium maturing composite (100-110 days) which has shown wide
adaptability to the Indian Sub-continent. Posses considerable resistance to foliar
||Medium, yellow, semi-flint
||Medium maturing composite (105-110 days) marked by resistant
downy mildew and leaf blight. Well developed husk cover. It has shown superiority in the
Tarai belt of Uttar Pradesh and in north Eastern Himalayan region.
|'Vikram'||Medium, yellow, orange flint
||Early maturing composites (90-95 days) recommended for the
northern plains; shows considerable tolerance to drought and downy mildew.
|'Sona'||Medium, orange, shiny flint
||Medium maturing composite (100-110 days) recommended for
northern plains, considerable resistance to foliar disease.
|'Jawahar'||Medium, yellow, semi flint with caps
||Recommended for northern plains and peninsular India matures
in 100-110 days. Resistant to downy mildew and leaf blight. High resistant to stem border.
|'Amber'||Yellow, bold, semi flint
||A medium maturing composite (105-110 days) recommended for
Peninsular India and the Himalayan belt up to an elevation of 1,700m. Resistant to leaf
blight and downy mildew.
|Nutritionally superior opaque-2 composites (very superior in protein quality)|
|'Shakti'||Yellow to light yellow semi flint, with soft dull grains
||A medium maturing Opaque-2 composite, recommended for
cultivation in the states.
|'Rattan'||Yellow to light yellow semi flint, with soft dull grains
||A medium maturing Opaque-2 composite recommended for
cultivation in the states of Punjab and Rajasthan.
|'Protina'||Yellow to light yellow semi flint, with soft dull grains
||A medium maturing Opaque-2 composite recommended for
cultivation in Karnataka and the Tarai belt of Uttar Pradesh.
are three distinct seasons for the cultivation of maize: the main season is kharif;
whereas its cultivation during Rabi in Peninsular India and Bihar and in spring in
northern India is done. Higher yields have been recorded in the Rabi and spring crops. The
higher yields are primarily due to better water management and the lower incidence of
disease and pests.
In most parts of India, maize during kharif is sown with the break of
monsoon, the actual dates varying from region to region. It is sown in early March in
north eastern hills, in April to early May in north western hills, in May June in
Peninsular India, in the end of June to mid July in the Indo Gangetic Plains. The late
sowing of maize may extend upto late August in certain irrigated tracts of Punjab. Spring
maize is sown in late January to the end of February in Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu
and Karnataka in the end of October to mid November. Both the spring and the Rabi crops
are raised, more or less, under irrigation
Sowing made a week tomten days before the usual break of monsoon, with
initial one or two irrigations, provide a better chance for the establishment of plants,
and yield increases of 15-20 per cent have also been recorded.
Maize is sown in rows, 60-75 cm apart, whereas the plants in the row are spaced at 20
to 25 cm. A population of 60-75 thousand plants per hectare at harvest are required for
obtaining the optimum yield. Sowing in rows is generally done with drill or by dropping
the seed behind the plough. The practice of broading, particularly under rain fed
conditions and for fodder maize is still prevalent in several parts of country. Seventeen
to 20 kg of seed for the grain crop and 35-40 kg per hectare for the fodder crop is
During the initial stage, the growth of the maize plants is suppressed
by weeds. Weeding may be done between the rows with bullock or tractors drawn implements,
whereas the weeding within the row is done by hand. Two or three weedings may be
necessary, following which the crop is earthed up to provide for better standability. No
intercultivation after flowering should be done, as it is likely to damage the lateral
roots. Effective weed control can be obtained by spraying Simazine or Atrazine @ 1-1.25
spraying, the fields should be free from weeds. For the fodder crop of maize, less of
weeding is needed, since the soil surface is nearly covered by a dense population of the
Application of Manures and Fertilizers:
For obtaining high yield, the maize crop should be heavily manured. Twenty five to thirty
cartloads of farmyard manure or compost should be ploughed into the soil before the
sowing. For hybrid and composite varieties of maize, 100-120 kg of nitrogen, along with 60
kg of P2O5 and 40 kg of K2O per hectare, is recommended.
The precise level of application of phosphorus and potash should be modified in the
background of soil analysis. One third of the nitrogen and total quantity of potash and
phosphorus should be applied before sowing, while the remaining nitrogen should be applied
as a side dressing at the Knee high stage and at tasselling in two equal doses. In freshly
leveled fields and soils with very light texture, a soil application of 10-20 kg/ha of
zinc sulphate before sowing has also given good results. To control soil infesting
insects, 10-20 kg of 10% DDT or BHC per hectare may be mixed with the basic fertilizer
application. Farmers planting local varieties may apply 40-60 kg of nitrogen to the soil
In regions with about 60 cm of well distributed rainfall during the growing season, any
additional irrigation is not necessary. Inadequate soil moisture during flowering and poet
flowering particularly during the grain filling period will markedly reduce the yield.
During the grain filling period- the most susceptible stage, additional irrigation if
needed, should be applied. The total number of irrigations will depend on the rainfall
distribution pattern. The spring and rabi crops are entirely raised under irrigation; the
number of irrigations may, however, vary from 5-10 depending type of the soil and the
maize crop sown for grain is harvested when the grains are nearly dry and do not contain
more than 20 per cent moisture. The appearance of the plant may be misleading,
particularly in the case of high yielding hybrids and composites whose grains are dry,
while the stalk and leaves may be still green. Ears are removed from the standing crop.
Harvested ears are dried in the sun before shelling. In the case of the late-sown crop,
farmers prefer to harvest the whole plants and pile them, and the ears are removed are
removed later. Maize stalks are used as cattle feed or fuel. In fact, no part of the maize
plant, even the cobs from which the grains have been removed, is left unused.
Maize grown for fodder should be harvested at the milk to early dough
stage; the earlier harvested crop is likely to yield less and have a lower protein
content. For silage, however, the late dough is preferred. Both power and hand operated
low priced maize shellers are available indigenously. These shellers are considerably more
efficient than hand shelling or beating with sticks, the common practice in northern
Farmers using hybrid maize should not save their own seed for their
next crop, as the advanced generation hybrid seeds are likely to yield reduction of 25-30
per cent. However, can save seed from composites and open pollinated varieties, when grown
in isolation. At least seeds from 500 to 100 ears of the best yielding and normally spaced
plants resistant to prevalent diseases and pests should be bulked. Ears should be dried,
shelled and treated with an insecticide and the treated seed is necessary, as the
untreated seeds on ears are times badly attacked by stored grain pests and the germination
is markedly reduced.
Considerable variation in grain yield is observed. The yield levels
depend upon the variety, the amount of the fertilizer used, and the rainfall pattern etc.
Under irrigated conditions and recommended cultural practices, an average yield of 4
tonnes per hectare in the Indo-Gangetic Plains is not uncommon; in peninsular India and at
higher elevations, a mean yield of 5-7 tonnes per hectare has frequently been obtained.
Under low fertility and rainfed conditions with poor yielding varieties, a grain yield of
about on to two tonnes/ha is obtained.