The first step towards obtaining good maize harvest is ensuring that the farm is well-ploughed and ready for planting. Ploughing should go a depth of at least 20cm and should be conducted two to three weeks before the onset of the rains.
After preparing the land, the farmer should then plan for the planting process by budgeting for and acquiring inputs such as fertiliser and seeds.
There are four important decisions that farmers should make when it comes to choosing fertiliser.
First, fertiliser is chosen depending on the soil type. For sandy soils, NPK fertiliser works better than DAP. Farmers should also buy the right amount of fertiliser. The amount will depend on the recommended nutrient application rates, the target yield, the size of the farm, and the nutrient concentration of fertiliser selected.
Second, farmers should also ensure they obtain the right seed variety. The climatic zone in which a farm is located influences the maize variety that should be planted as seed varieties do well in different areas.
Before purchasing seeds, farmers should examine the packaging to determine the expiry date and to ensure that it has not been interfered with.
The amount of seeds to be purchased depends on the recommended seed rate, and the size of the farm. On average, an hectare requires 25kg of certified seed.
Third, at the onset of rains, the farmer should harrow the farm. Harrowing involves breaking up large soil blocks. This makes planting easier and ensures maize germinates. Planting should start a few days after the onset of the rains when the soil is moist.
Fourth, for good growth and development, maize should be planted at the right spacing. The recommended spacing is 75cm between rows and 25cm for plants. The planting holes should be about 5cm deep. The right spacing ensures good crop growth, makes it easier to weed and reduces the spread of pests and diseases.After preparing planting holes, fertiliser should be placed correctly in each hole and then covered with some little soil to avoid contact with seeds. A bottle-top can be used to apply fertiliser uniformly in each hole. The holes should take a seed each and then covered with soil.
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