Maize is an important kharif fodder crop which gives highly succulent and nutritionally rich fodder.
Maize grain is also an important feed component of dairy cattle and poultry feed.
Maize is a rich source of starch, protein and edible oil.
Maize produces good quality herbaceous fodder with high palatability.
Hence by providing sufficient quantities of fodder instead of costly concentrates and feeds to the milch animals, the cost of milk production can considerably be reduced.
Optimal growth conditions are 18-21°C average day-temperatures, annual rainfalls of more than 750 mm, and deep, well-drained rich soils.
However, maize withstands annual rainfalls ranging from 230 to 4100 mm, a pH between 4.3 and 8.7, and a great variety of soils.
Frost kills the plants.
Drought is detrimental at flowering as it affects pollination and impairs yields.
Maize has no tolerance to flooding.
Maize requires very fertile, well drained loamy soils having pH range of 5.5 to 8.0.
The crop grows best on alluvial or red soils but can also by grown on well drained black soils.
It does not thrive well on heavy soils, saline and alkali soils.
After preparing a fine seed bed the crop must be sown in lines (20-30 cm apart) by using seed drill or maize planter or by kera on para method.
Sowing time varies from place to place.
Maize has bold seed size.
It requires 50-60 kg seeds depending upon size.
Seed should be sown in lines spaced at 30 cm.
For summer sowing in irrigated areas, last week of February to last week of March-April is the appropriate time.
Rainy season crop is sown with the beginning of rains in June-July.
Rabi crop is sown in October-November particularly in eastern and southern parts of the country.
In hills sowing is taken up in May.
Irrigate immediately after sowing and give life irrigation on the third day and thereafter once in 10 days.
The maize crop is comparatively more to sensitive to excess moist and stress.
It requires 5-6 irrigation at 10-12 days interval during summer season
Requires 3-4 irrigation at 10-12 days during Rabi
And 1-2 during rainy season when rainfall interval exceeds 12 days.
Maize responds well to the application farm yard manure and compost.
Apply 10 tons’ farm yard manure or compost per acre one fortnight before sowing.
In the absence of farm yard manure, it requires 110 kg urea per acre.
In addition to this in two split doses. Half of the urea should be applied at the time of sowing and remaining half 25-30 days after sowing.
Weeding has to be done in the fodder maize farm as weeds rob your plants of the benefits of the fertilise you apply.
Hence after 30 days, weeding has to be done for the plants.
If necessary, second spell of weeding can be done after 45 days
After that, fodder maize will grow very fast and densely.
Fodder Maize will become robust, tufted and has a vigorous root system, developing from nodes of its creeping stolons.
Fodder Maize by this time would have grown up to 6 feets in height.
They will form dense thick clumps, up to 1 m across.
The leaves will be flat, linear, and hairy at the base, 100 cm to 120 cm long, 1 cm to 5 cm wide and bluish-green in color.
Fodder Maize is very palatable because the stalks are tender
It has a wide range of adaptability so that many farmers can benefit from it.
Harvesting is done at intervals of 60 to 70 days.
The first harvest, however, is made three months from planting.
Then succeeding harvests are every 60 to 70 days.
The stalks are cut close to the ground, and in no time, new shoots or ratoon will come out.
The crop is ready for harvest at silk stage for fodder purpose, which continues up to milk stage.
The early harvesting though produce good quality fodder but yield is reduced.
In case of late harvesting, the fodder quality is impaired
Maize yields around 160-200 quintals of green fodder per acre during rainy season and 100-120 quintals of fodder per acre during summer season.
Palatability increases as hard stems when fermented into silage become soft and better utilized by the dairy animals.