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Maize (Zea mays L.) crop is utilised in a number of ways. Maize grain contains about 10% protein, 4% oil, 70% carbohydrate, 2.3% crude fibre, 10.4% albuminoides and 1.4% ash. Maize grain also has sufficient quantities of vitamin A, nicotinic acid, riboflavin and vitamin E. Maize cropfurnishes huge quantities of green fodder for the cattle. Several industries like starch, milling etc. are based on maize products and byproducts.


Maize varieties may be grouped into dent, flint, floury, waxy, amylose, pop and sweet based on the endosperm type. In India, mostly cream-yellow to orange flint early-maturing varieties are commonly gown and are put to varied uses, ranging from chapati-making, as pop corn, roasted ears, or as a green vegetable to starch extraction. Pop corn and sweet varieties are grown only to a limited extent. ‘Malan White’, a dent variety, is grown in Kumbalgarh Tehsil of the Udaipur Division. Indigenous maize varieties of northern India show limited variation. Based to maturity, the maize varieties can be grouped into the following three categories:

  1. Very early-maturity types, maturing in 65-75 days, e.g. Sathi, Kathri and Teen Pakhia,
  2. Medium early-maturing varieties subjected to a limited degree of improvement, e.g. ‘Basi,’ ‘KT 41’, ‘Jaunpur’, ‘Rudrapur Local’, and
  3. 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.

Under 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 various regions of the country. Seed of these hybrids and composite varieties are being multiplied and sold through the National seeds 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 own seed for the following year. Care should, however, be taken that the seed fields have

  1. the adequate isolation of 300 m,
  2. seed from at least 500-1000 plants is bulked to represent the populations, and
  3. select the best plants and not ears.

Three nutritionally 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 the essential amino acids, particularly lysine and tryptophan. 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 hectares can save the seed from the middle of the field, whereas the rest of the crop can be used as nutritionally superior grain. Opaque-2 maize will be very useful as a human food as well as an animal feed, particularly for poultry and piggery.

Varietal Improvement

According to the Department of Agricultural Research and Education, Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, single cross hybrids shows higher yield potential than double cross, double top cross and three way hybrids. Stress on single-cross hybrid breeding has resulted in the release of one more single-crossed hybrid at central level. Besides, three composites were released.

Maize Hybrids / Composites Released 1999-2000

Cultivar Maturity Grain Yield (tonnes/ha) Colour Area of Recommendation
Vivek Hybrid 4 (single cross) Extra early (75-80 days) 3.0-4.5 Orange – yellow flint Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat (rainfed and irrigated)
Composite Gaurav Early (80 – 85 days) 3-4 Orange – yellow flint Central and western Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana and Punjab (rainfed and irrigated)
Jawahar Composite Makka 12 Medium (90 days) 4.5 – 5.5 White semi – flint Madhya Pradesh (kharif)
Co BC 1 (Baby Corn) Baby corn ears can be harvested in 50-60 days     Tamil Nadu (kharif and rabi)

In addition hybrid AH 58 has been identified by the Variety Identification Committee, the penultimate step in the varietal release, for Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. It is an early-maturing (80 days) hybrid with yield potential of 3.5-4.5 tonnes/ha. Maize cultivars were evaluated for value-added products such as baby corn, sweet corn, high oil and quality protein. Him 129, VL 42, Pusa Hybrid 1, Pusa Hybrid 2 and Prakash were found suitable for baby-corn production. A total of 384 introductions comprising 341 from Mexico, 34 from North Korea, 5 from France and 4 from Hungary have been received and supplied to public and private sectors for their breeding programmes. During rabi 3 hybrids with medium maturity (KH 5354, PAC 9735 and JKMH 245) and 3 with early maturity (KH 5361, JKMH 255 and MMH 992) showed promise in co-ordinated testing. These had at least 10% yield superiority to check.

Weed Management

Abundant rainfall during kharif encourages rapid growth of weeds which emerge with the germination of maize seeds and grow along with the plants till the early growth period. If not checked timely, these weeds can bring down maize yield by 50-60%. During the initial stage, the growth of the maize plants is suppressed by weeds. Weeding may be done between the rows with bullock- or tractor-drawn implements, whereas the weeding within the row is done by hand. Two to three weedings may be necessary, following which the crop is earthed up to provide for better standability. No inter cultivation after flowering should be done, as it is likely to damage the lateral roots. The following herbicides have been found effective and can be used for the maize crop:

  1. Atrazine and Simazine Either of these can be applied immediately after planting maize. Rate of application varies from 1.0 to 1.25 kg of active ingredient in light soils and 1.25 to 1.50 kg of active ingredient in heavy soils. The weedicide should be mixed in 1000 litres of water and evenly sprayed on the soil surface just after sowing. There should be enough moisture in the soil at the time of spraying.
  2. Lasso This herbicide needs to be used immediately after planting the crop. It helps in controlling weeds for initial 30 to 45 days after planting. The weedicide should be applied at the rate of 5 litres per hectare. This weedicide should be mixed in 1000 litres of water and evenly sprayed in one hectare.
Disease Management

Maize crops suffers from various pathological maladies. This can severely reduce the yield. Some of the common diseases and their recommended remedies are mentioned below:

Name Of Disease

Recommended Remedy

Seed Rot and Seedling Blight Treating the seed with 3 g of Captan or Thiram per kg of seed
Black Bundle Disease Treating the seeds with systematic fungicides like Bavistin, Benlate or Brestanol at the rate of 2 g per kg of seed
Bacterial Stalk Rot
  1. Arranging proper drainage
  2. Avoiding injury to plant at the time of weeding and top dressing
  3. Bleaching powder to be applied at the rows at the rate of 20-25 kg per hectare
Pythium Stalk Rot Applying Captan in poorly drained pockets of the fields along the rows at the rate of 150 g per 100 litres of water
Sugarcane Downy Mildew
  1. Growing tolerant varieties
  2. Spraying Dithane M-45 (0.3%) + Zinc Sulphate (0.05%) mixture
Brown Stripe Downy Mildew 3-4 sprays of Bordeaux mixture (4:4:50)
Maydis and Turcicum Leaf Blights 2-4 spraying of Zaneb or Maneb (1.5 kg in 600 litres of water per hectare)


Latest Developments in Production Improvement
Maize cultivars VL 42, VL 78, Pusa Early Hybrid 1 and Pusa Early Hybrid 2 provided about 1 tonne/ha higher baby-corn yield, and were 10.2% superior to conventional types. Organic and inorganic fertilizers together resulted in 12% higher yield of maize and wheat in maize-wheat cropping system compared to chemical fertilizers alone.

Crop Protection

Maize syn. A III, EH 50695. EH 50802, Pro 322, X 25, UMH 28, PAC 744 and Bio 52331 showed tolerance to maize stalk-borer (Chilo partellus) under artificial infestation on the multilocation basis. KH 559A, AH 776, Bio-9718(W), KH 5005, PAC 743, EC 3095 and C 933 were found tolerant to shoot-fly, Atherigona soccata and A. naquvii under natural conditions. A 3-year study on the effect of previous season farming practices and fertilization regimes on stalk-borer infestation in maize, showed that borer infestation increased with the dosage of nitrogenous fertilizers applied to the preceeding crop.


Maydis leaf blight SC 24(92)3-2-2, Suwan 1(5)C11 B-B, CMLI and SC 7-2-1-2 v 1
Post-flowering stalk rot Pop 28 TSR (S2)-13-1 #, Across 7936, Talatijapan 8936-1-3#, -# - #, Pratap x MO 17-2-3g-2-2, Pusa Composite 2-1-2-1-2, CM 103, CM 119, CM 125, B 37, C 1540, C 1216 and GLG 420
Sorghum downy mildew NAI 103, NAI 114, NAI 116, NAI 118, NAI 123, NAI 125, NAI 132, NAI 144 and NAI 138
Turcicum leaf blight NAI 143, NAI 145, NAI 147, NAI 151 and NAI 155

Pest Management

Maize crop is susceptible to attack by a number of insect pests. The stem-borers however, are the main pests of maize. According to the recommendations, the adults are to be collected using light traps or by placement of virgin female traps. The increased seed rate is helpful in thinning damaged plants and destroying them to reduce pest population. Similarly, destruction of all crop residues after harvest has been helpful in reducing the damage. Growing cowpea as trap crop before normal maize sowing in isolation has been useful in diverting the pest infestation from the main crop and also serve as refuge for parasitoids and predators. Release of egg parasitoid, Trichogramma chilonis @ 75,000/ha/week at the first appearance of adults in the field and weekly release especially for first and second broods of the pest ensures destruction of 70-80% of eggs. Synchronized releases of Cotesia flavipes with the development of larvae of stem-borer has been effective in reducing the pest population. Need-based application of insecticides like Endosulfan / Monocrotophos at 10 and 25 days after germination has been recommended, in case the pest reaches ETL.

Other Latest Development in Maize Research

"Baby Corn COBC 1" Variety Suitable for Dessert and Canning Developed by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University: In early 1998, the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University released `Baby Corn COBC 1’, a variety suitable for dessert and canning. This short duration (55-65 days) nutritious vegetable crop can be grown in all maize growing areas in Tamil Nadu. The variety gives a yield of 6 to 7 tonnes per hectare along with 32 tonnes of green fodder. It gives multiple cobs (2 or 3 per plant) with a maximum of 7 pickings at intervals of 2 days. Maize Composite Varieties Developed by the Rajendra Agriculture University, Bihar: The Rajendra Agricultural University in Bihar has developed maize-composite varieties such as `Suwan’ for kharif and `Laxmi’ and `Hemant’ for rabi besides hybrids such as Rajendra Makka-1 and 2 for rabi which are being used in other states also besides Bihar. Early Maturing Varieties Developed by the Indian Agriculture Research Institute, New Delhi: The scientists at IARI, New Delhi have developed two early maturing varieties of maize, Pusa Early Hybrid Makka 1 and Pusa Early Hybrid Makka 2, which nature in 70-80 days against the normal varieties requiring 100-120 days. These varieties, produced through single crosses, are particularly suitable for cultivation in regions where a time gap of no more than 90 days in available between two main crops to cultivate a short duration crop. They are suitable for cultivation in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa and parts of Maharashtra where adequate water is available for a limited period and a variety that matures in a short period is to be harvested before the dry weather sets in. They are also suitable for cultivation in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, where the crop can be harvested before the onset of floods in the first week of September. Research Centres Being Set Up by the Indian Council for Agriculture Research: ICAR is setting up two more research centres for maize one each at Begusarai and Deoria and has plans to make one research centre at Varanasi, not functioning since many years, operational in the Ninth Plan period. Pilot Project of UNDP: In May 1999, the UNDP sanctioned a financial assistance of $80,000 for a pilot project for the development of hybrid maize. Technology Mission on Oilseeds, Pulses and Maize will implement the project along with the state agricultural departments of the governments of Bihar, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. The project may involve improvement in infrastructure and irrigation facilities and promotion in use of better technology and quality seeds in select regions in these states.