Maize is one of the most widely cultivated agricultural products not just in Nigeria, but in the world. However, it is also very susceptible to weed infestation as they compete for sunlight, water and nutrients especially in the first 3 to 6 weeks of germination. It is during this period that the utmost focus should be placed on weed control. When maize is grown, it can successfully choke out the weeds.
Maize can be eaten directly and it can be processed as flour which can be used to make baked products like bread, cakes, doughnuts and pancakes. Maize is also used to make cereals and popcorn.
With so many uses, it is no wonder that this product is so important to our daily lives and why farmers need to have a high yield. Weeds are the number one enemy to achieving high yield, so it is pertinent that every farmer is well equipped to deal with them. Here are some practical ways to weed control in your maize farm.
- Land Preparation: Preparing your land and getting it free of weed is a good place to start. Of course, the weeds are bound to grow again, but one should not plant on land already overgrown with weeds. After planting, pre-emergence herbicides can be used to kill the weed seeds and protect the maize early.
- Rotation: If you are a farmer and you are very observant, you will realize that there are some particular kinds of weeds that grow when you plant a particular crop. Different weeds affect different crops and the idea of rotation is to surprise the weed by changing the kind of crops you grow on the piece of land seasonally. Some good crops that are perfect to rotate with maize are Groundnut, Sweet Potatoes, and Soya Beans.
- Spacing: Be mindful of the spacing between one maize and another. They should be not be too clustered and they should not be too far apart so they can cover the ground quickly and compete with the weeds. Planting at a spacing of 25cm x 75 cm is best to properly manage weed infestation.
- Weeding: Small scale farmers can use hoes or use their hands to uproot weeds. The disadvantage of using hoes is that, if not careful, the farmer might damage the roots of the maize. Also, the weeds might have caused so much damage before they are even big enough to be uprooted with the hands.
- Fertilizers: These will enable the maize to have a quick and healthy growth which will cover the ground and suppress the weeds early. Simply put, both the weeds and your maize are fighting for the limited resources in the land and fertilizers give your crops an advantage which is a good thing.
- Herbicides: We talked about pre-emergence herbicides in our first point. Post-emergence herbicides can also be used to kill weeds when they grow. Primagram, alachlor (Lasso), paraquat (grammoxone), primextra are some of the examples of herbicides that can be used in a maize farm. It should be noted that only recommended herbicides should be used as the wrong ones can be detrimental to your yield. It is also important to ensure that a professional should apply these herbicides as it can also kill your plant when it is applied wrongly.
Click Weed Control – Managing Your Maize Farm to read more.