Mian Anwar Tariq
Spring is the most suitable season for growing corn, moong beans and sunflower. The corn has been introduced into the old world from the new one like many other crops, for example upland cotton, tomato, potato, and tobacco.
With the passage of time it has spread the world over and ranks third in area after wheat and rice. However its production is higher than any other crop. It has many uses besides being a staple food in our northern areas. ‘Makee ki roti’ with sag and butter is considered a delicacy during winter.
Roasted raw green cobs are relished by people of all ages and boiled fresh sweet corn is delicious to enjoy after the application of butter or margarine. Pop corn after the application of butter and salt is popular amongst children. Its by-products are extensively used in textile industry, leather tanning and man-made fibre. Jelly, custard powder, corn flour and corn flakes are its common by-products. There are two types of corn sweet and starchy. Its supply is limited since Rafhan is the only one in the market.
Wheat is sown over more than 210 million hectares with an average of 2700 kg per hectare. On the other hand, corn is grown over 139 million hectares, with an average of 3832 kg per hectare. Italy has the highest yield of 9322 kg of grain per hectare, whereas our yield is merely 1718 kg per hectare.
The average yields in USA, Canada, France and Egypt are higher due to greater biological yield potential of seed, with an ideal climate to express its genetic capabilities under better agronomic practices. The hybrid seed imported by many multinationals has high potential to reach 10,000 kg per hectare if managed properly. However, this seed is costly. The government must place an embargo on it and other seed imports in to the country. These companies should be motivated to produce seeds indigenously. Cheaper seeds, if produced in abundance, can be marketed abroad.
The optimum and desirable sowing time vary with the location and the variety; it starts by mid-January and ends by mid-March depending upon climatic zone. The land must be prepared nicely and properly. Farm yard manure, if availble, may be added in sufficient quantity. Since it is an exhaustive crop therefore, three major elements NP and K are required in adequate quantities. The nitrogen dose varies from 2 to 3 bags of urea. Out of which one-third may-be applied at sowing, one-third during growth period and the rest for early cob formation. About two bags of diammonium phosphate (DAP) be applied at sowing. Whereas, one bag of potassium sulphate may be applied at the first irrigation. As far as the seed rate is concerned it ranges from 12 to 15 kg per acre in rows of 2-1/2 feet or 75 cm apart.
To have a desired number of plants they may be thinned at 4-6 inches apart or three plants in a foot. Less healthy and weak plants may be discarded so as to have vigorous growth and healthy stand of crop. As corn, sunflower and many other crops are cross-pollinated hence maximum hybrid vigour can be achieved by sowing hybrid seed.
The cost of imported hybrid seed is comparatively much higher and the seed has to be replaced each season. On the other hand seeds of synthetic varieties can be retained for years together.
There are a number of synthetic varieties, different for all the provinces depending upon the requirement and location of cultivation. The intensity of weeds and insect infestation badly affect the grain yield. Therefore, it is prudent to eradicate them. Another most important factor, which badly curtails the yields of spring crop, is usual warming of season at the time of pollination process and grain filling.
In order to overcome the ill-effects of high temperature frequent irrigations may be applied. And finally the marketing system has to be improved to protect growers and an allied industry may be established to expand its production and demand. As it is a short duration crop, if managed properly it shall bring more income to the grower as compared to wheat.