Introduction to Maize Farming – Corn Production Manual

In a few words, corn is a warm-period annual grass used for the production of various products. To start corn farming, someone must have a sufficiently big growing area, as economies of scale are very important for crop profitability. You can read all the articles of this series in order to gain an understanding of factors that may result in good yield, as well as restrictions and risks that may put your crop into trouble. 

A few weeks or days before the seeding, corn farmers often prepare the field. They till the land and remove any previous cultivation remains and weeds from the field. Then they integrate into the soil the basal fertilization. They also design the irrigation system. When they are ready for seeding, they use big seeding machines which sprinkle Corn seeds on rows defined by the producers. Fertilization, Irrigation, and Weed Management are applied in most cases. 

Most commercial corn varieties can be harvested 60-140 days after seeding. The time from Planting to Harvesting depends on the variety, climate, and soil conditions prevailing in the area. Nowadays, producers harvest corn through large harvesters. These machines remove the entire plant, and at the same time, they separate the seeds from the rest of the biomass. After harvesting, corn growers plow and destroy or integrate the remains of the crop. They may also use the remains as animal feed or for various other purposes. Then, they may rotate the crop with Fabaceae or other plants to control diseases and prevent soil from depleting. 

The restrictive factor when growing corn is the climate. Corn is a warm-period crop. It prefers slightly average to high temperatures to thrive. It is sensitive to frost; most varieties start to have problems in temperatures under 10 °C (50 °F). However, some varieties may tolerate up to 0 °C (32 °F) without dying. Extremely high temperatures >45 °C (113 °F) also cause problems. As optimum temperatures, we consider average temperatures 20-22 °C (68 °F to 73 °F). It is crucial to examine which varieties of corn thrive in your area. This procedure is critical. Each variety gives products of different yields and quality when cultivated under different growing conditions. The most commonly used Corn types nowadays are classified as follows:

  • Dent Corn: This type of corn is the most popular (over 90% of corn production) and is mainly used for feed production. The kernels of this type are dry and yellow.
  • Flint Corn: We find this type of corn mainly in colder climates. It matures earlier than the other types and has smooth white to red kernels.
  • Flour corn: This type is mainly cultivated in the USA for flour and beer production. 
  • Sweet corn: This type is produced for raw consumption because of its sweet flavor. We also use it for syrups production. The kernels of this type are wrinkled and have white to yellowish colorations.
  • Popcorn: This type of corn has small hard kernels, almost spherical, which explode at high temperatures, producing the popular snack.
  • Waxy corn: This type of corn is mainly used for the production of starches.

We further categorize corn varieties depending on their biological cycle. Thus we have varieties of 300-400-500-600 or 700 FAO. In a few words, if we have a big FAO number, the growing season of the corn will be longer, and we normally need more heat compared to smaller FAO numbers. On the opposite, the more we move north or to higher altitudes, the less heat units our crop can enjoy, so we shall choose an earlier variety with a smaller FAO number. As a rule of thumb, a longer growing season may result in higher yields, but also in higher costs (irrigation, fertilization, pest management etc.). 

Fast Facts and History of Maize

Maize Nutritional Value and Health Benefits

Corn Plant Information and Production

How to Grow Corn for Profit – Maize growing guide

Principles for selecting the best maize variety

Maize Soil preparation, Soil requirements and Seeding requirements

Maize Pests and Diseases

Maize Water Requirements and Irrigation Systems

Maize Fertilizer Requirements

How to successfully control weeds in corn cultivation for higher yields

Yield, Harvest and Post-harvest handling of Maize


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