Maize is one of the world`s important cereal crops. In East Africa, the crop is a major staple food for a large proportion of the population, in addition to being an important animal feed.
The importance of maize is centered on the large quality of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and fats, contained in the kernels, making it compare favorably as an energy source with root and tuber crops. In Uganda, an average of 1.5 tonnes of maize per hectare is produced.
Most of this maize, in addition to being eaten directly as food, supports the local brewery industry, where flour is fermented to produce many local brews.
Improving the productivity of maize-based farming could significantly reduce hunger, enhance food security and alleviate poverty through increasing the purchasing power of the farmers.
Here are the 18 major tips, techniques, and methods regarding how to increase your corn crop yield
Plant Early, Plant Effectively
Choosing the right time to plant is often the most important part of planting. The best strategy to use to increase yields is: if your soil is ready, start planting. There are tests you can perform on your soil to see if it is ready for planting. Today’s hybrid seeds create a more sustainable product, but knowing if your field is ready for early planting is just as important. Planting early can result in increased yields by taking advantage of unexpectedly early favorable soil conditions.
Practice Seasonal Soil Rotation
When you are planting season-by-season, it is important to understand how planting recurring crops can affect your overall yield. Planting corn in consecutive years has been proven to be less effective for optimal yields. This means that corn-on-corn planting should only be considered when your soil conditions are strong enough, or your land mass is limited. If you don’t have access to either, you may need to consider planting alternative crops in alternating years — such as soybeans. Planting an alternating crop helps to diversify the demands on your soil. This results in crops that not only yield more, but continually produce year in and year out.
Know the Yield Potential
It is not just enough to plan your seeds and hope for the best, you should always be sure to understand your field’s growth potential. Understanding the kind of crops you’re planting, and the kinds of seeds you are using, is important when assessing yield potential. Crop producers typically have an estimated idea of the yield potential of their seeds. Understanding this will help manage not only your expectations, but whether or not your yield potential is matching your actual production.
Always Scout Your Fields
One of the most important advices you can receive about how to increase crop yields is by scouting your fields on foot. This will give you a chance to assess soil conditions, notice any weeds cropping up, and check that your crops are growing healthily. There is a lot you can miss when you are passing by your crops at high speeds, so hitting the ground and examining your crops is an important step towards a stronger crop yield.
Ensure Proper Water Drainage
Water management is essential to crop survival and maximizing your corn’s yield potential. It’s important to ensure your crop is getting enough water, but also that they aren’t being over-watered. Developing a drainage system in your crops can help prevent water logging and salinization in your soil, both of which can stifle growth and production.
Cultivating your soil with fertilizers is an important part of maintaining optimal soil conditions for crops on your farmland. Fertilizing your corn at the time of seeding can help provide the seeds with essential nutrients like potassium, phosphorous, and calcium. The root-zone at the base of your crops is the most important area to facilitate growth so your corn can thrive and produce an impressive yield.
Test Your Soil
Soil testing should be on your to do list right from the get-go, because your soil and its needs will directly influence the growth of your crops. Examining the phosphorus, potassium, and fertilization levels will give you insight into how to handle your crops. It will also let you know when proper soil conditions are forming, such as the optimal density and right amount of nutrients, so you are ready to start planting.
Weed Early and Often
Weeds are not just the enemy of front lawns and golf courses, they can also compromise your farmland. Weeds are invasive, and siphon nutrients away from the crops you are trying to grow. Weeds always need to be dealt with as early and often as possible. Scouting your fields gives you the opportunity to see if any weeds are cropping up — and putting a stop to them before the problem can get out of hand.
Having quality seeds is the basis for increasing crop yields. Whether you are looking into increasing your corn yields, or maximizing your overall agricultural productivity, you need to consider the strength of your seeds. Using hybrid seeds that are naturally inclined to grow faster, stronger, and with greater efficiency is pivotal to the success of your crops. Non-GMO seeds combine sustainability and cost seamlessly, which accounts for both quality and cost.
Other quick tips
- -On a well prepared land open up holes of about 5-7cm for hand planting
- -Saw at least 3 seeds per hole. Sawing should be in rows
- -Then thinly cover with a layer of soil
- -Water when sawing is done earlier before onset of the rains
- -Ensure spacing
- -Weed the field after 2-3 weeks after planting
- -Harvest your maize when the comb is well filled and dry for drying type or harvest it fresh
- -Your harvest should be timed around the 7th or 8th week after planting
Crop yields can be as complex as they are important for your farm. Learning how to increase agricultural productivity is always on a farmer’s mind, and there are multiple techniques to help improve your corn yields year after year. These tips will provide you with a strong start so you are able to begin putting them into practice, and start maximizing corn yields on your farm.
Credit: Ministry of Agriculture