Now that protein enhancement techniques in Maize has been successfully tested and Indian scientists developing new such cultivars, it is time more of the lab innovations reached the fields and enhanced the quality of maize produced.
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The importance of maize or corn lies in its wide variety of applications besides serving as human food and animal feed. It is a source for a large number of industrial products - maize corn, corn starch, corn oil, baby corn, popcorn, dairy feed, poultry feed, piggery, agro-industries, and so on. The huge potential for exports has added to the demand for maize all over world.
Maize is a cereal grain that was domesticated in Mesoamerica and then spread throughout the American continents. It spread to the rest of the world after European contact with the Americas in the late 15th century and early 16th century.
Maize is now widely cultivated around the world, and a greater weight of maize is produced each year than any other grain. While the United States produces almost half of the world's harvest, other top producing countries are as widespread as China, EU-25, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, France, Indonesia, and South Africa. Major consuming nations of corn are China and USA.
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Maize is classified on the basis of protein content and hardness of the kernel, and the different types include pop, flint, flour, sweet and Indian corns.
The planting of the maize crop is done in the spring season because of rains. Rains are very important for this crop, which is very sensitive to drought. Maize is generally cultivated in a two or three crop rotation.
While some maize varieties grow 7 m (23 ft) tall at certain locations, commercial maize has been bred for a height of 2.5 m (8 ft). Sweetcorn is usually shorter than field-corn varieties.
Maize cultivars grown in the temperate zone are considered day-neutral and flower after a certain number of days at > 50° F (10°C). However, maize cultivars from tropical locations typically have a short-day requirement for flowering and generally do not produce seed in the long summer days at higher latitudes. The day-length requirement for flowering is controlled genetically and regulated by the phytochrome system.
The apex of the stem ends in the tassel, an inflorescence of male flowers. Each silk may become pollinated to produce one kernel of corn. Young ears can be consumed raw, with the cob and silk, but as the plant matures (usually during the summer months) the cob becomes tougher and the silk dries to inedibility. By late August the kernels have dried out and become difficult to chew without cooking them tender first in boiling water.
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The kernel of corn has a pericarp of the fruit fused with the seed coat, typical of the grasses. It is close to a multiple fruit in structure, except that the individual fruits (the kernels) never fuse into a single mass. The grains are about the size of peas, and adhere in regular rows round a white pithy substance, which forms the ear. An ear contains from two to four hundred grains, and is from 10–25 cm (4–10 in) in length. They are of various colors: blackish, bluish-gray, red, white and yellow. When ground into flour, maize yields more flour, with much less bran, than wheat does. However, it lacks the protein gluten of wheat and therefore makes baked goods with poor rising capability.
A genetic variation that accumulates more sugar and less starch in the ear is consumed as a vegetable and is called sweetcorn.
There has been continuous increase in the consumption demand of corn mainly owing to increase in the demand from meat and starch sector. There is also a growing requirement of maize in poultry sector, which uses corn as feed.
Among the major exporters of corn, USA dominates the international trade followed by Argentina. Brazil. China, South Africa and Ukraine are minor exporters. Major importing nations of maize are Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Egypt, Malaysia, EU and Colombia.
Main Maize producing states in India
Karnataka, AP, Bihar, MP. UP and Rajasthan are the main maize producing areas. It is also produced in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, HP, Jammu Kashmir, and Orissa. Punjab, West Bengal etc. Expiry rate of maize is fixed according to Nizamabad mandi. Apart from Nizamabad, Karimnagar in AP is also a delivery centre. In Maharashtra, Jalna and Jalgaon are the delivery centres while in Karnataka, Davengere is a delivery centre. Nimbaheda in Rajasthan, Ratlam in MP and Bahraich in UP are the delivery centres which are approved by the NCDEX.
It is a one of the main producing states where Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Vijayawada and Warrangal are the main producing areas. Sowing starts in June-July and arrival starts in September-October. In Nizamabad and Karimnagar area, around 15 lakh bags of maize are produced. The Rabi crop sowing takes place as second crop after harvesting of paddy. Paddy harvesting starts in Oct and after that the Rabi maize sowing would start and its delivery would start from December which would last till February. Total production of maize in AP is nearly 18 lakh ton. This year, production is expected to decrease as late rains have adversely impacted the per acre productivity. Here, bold quality is produced which has a mix of Red and Yellow colours. Since the starch content for the crop here is higher than other states, it is mostly purchased by starch companies entire year.
It is also a major producing area. During 2007-08, around 25 lakh ton maize was produced here. This is expected to increase in 2008-09 to 26 lakh ton. Here, only one crop is harvested. The crop is sown in June-July and its arrivals start in October to November. Colour of maize here remains yellowish. Large size of Karnataka maize fetches demand from all industries.
It attracts good demand from industries due to the good quality. Southern Rajasthan is a major producing area and colour of maize here remains Red. Tonk, Kota, Boondi, Bhilwara, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Nimbaheda and Pratapgarh are the main producing areas. During 2007, around 23 lakh tons were produced here while in 2008, the production is expected to increase by 10% in the view of increased sowing area - as per traders. Here, production is expected to touch the level of nearly 25 lakh bags. Sowing takes place here during June July. Harvesting takes place during Oct.
Maize production in Bihar has been increasing for last few years. Here, crop is cultivated 3 times in a year. One crop is sown in October-November and its arrival starts in April-June. Second crop is cultivated in September and its arrival starts in December. Third crop is sown in February and May is the month for its arrivals. Here, sowing area was expected to increase this year, but floods in Kosi River reduced the sowing area and also damaged the stock lying in warehouses. Soopol, Serhsa, Madhepura, Purnia, Katihar, Arrariya, Kishanganj and Khagariya are the areas most affected areas by flood but no report for damages has been reported from Begusarai, Samastipur, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Muzzaffarnagar and Chhapra. Last year, total production was around 28 lakh ton which is expected to reduce by 10 lakh bags to 18 lakh bags this year
Neemuch, Mandsore, Ratlam, Indore, Ujjain, Khandwa and Chhindwara are the main maize producing areas in MP. As per officially sources, around 8.78 lakh hectares was sown in 2007 which is likely to fall mildly this year to 8.73 lakh hectares. Around 16 lakh ton of maize was produced here in 2007 while production is expected to fall slightly this year to ~15 lakh ton.
Maize is produced in central Maharashtra in Buldana, Aurangabad, Jalgaon, Jalna, Nanded, Solapur, Sangli and Satara. Though in 2007, ~10 lakh ton maize was produced in Maharashtra but due to scarcity of rains, production is expected to reduce to 8 lakh ton this year as sowing took place late. Sowing starts here in June-July while arrivals start in October.
In UP, maize is produced in Bahraich, Kasganj, Raibareli, Etah, Etawah, Mainpuri, Bareli, Aligarh, Farakka, Kanpur and Pilibhit. During 2007, maize production was nearly 18 lakh ton while in 2008, production is expected to reduced by 2-3 lakh ton as floods have damaged some crop here even though some increment was seen in the sowing area. Cultivation starts in April and May while arrival starts in August and October.
Other Maize producing states
Maize is also produced in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, HP, Jammu & Kashmir, Orissa, Punjab and West Bengal. In 2007, total production of maize in these states was nearly 28 lakh ton. This is likely to cross the level of 30 lakh ton in 2008 as production of maize in Punjab is expected to increase than last year. Cultivation takes place in most places in June-July.