Corn drip irrigation
Thanks to its many uses, maize is the most widely produced cereal in the world. For example, around 850 million tonnes of grain maize alone are produced annually on 162 million hectares, with a yield of 5.2 t/ha. In Italy, yields are often well above 10 t/ha. The largest maize producers are United States and China, which together contribute for the 37% and the 21% of world production, respectively.
In Europe, grain maize production is around 45.2 million tonnes. In Italy, corn production represents 4% of the total agricultural value, while the production of grain maze is around 11 million tonnes. The cultivation of this culture is mainly distributed in the northern areas of Italy.
Maize (Zea mays L.) is an annual plant belonging to the Maydeae of the Poaceae family.
Roots: the root system spreads out in width and remains very superficial. However, in optimal conditions it can reach up to 2m in depth.
Stem: made up of a series of internodes, it varies in height from 50 cm to 6 m; on average it is about 2 m high.
Leaves: arranged in two opposite rows on the stem nodes. They have a laminar shape and an average length that ranges from 30 to 150cm.
Inflorescences: these are spikelet and there are both male inflorescences, which are located at the apex of the stem, and female inflorescences, which are what we call cob and are located at the axil of the eighth leaf.
Climate: prefers warm climates and requires high solar radiation. Temperatures below 10°C and above 45°C may cause growth interruption.
Soil: Corn is a plant which adapts well to all types of soil so its growing needs are minimal. However, maize prefers a draining and, if possible, sandy and rich in nutrients soil. For this reason, significant organic fertilisation with mature manure is often associated with high yields.
Soil preparation: Two types of preparation can be carried out.
The first, also known as traditional preparation, is characterised by a deep tillage of the soil that allows water drainage and aeration of it, followed by a refinement process.
The second type is sowing on hard soils or with minimum tillage. Sowing on hard ground does not involve any tillage and is carried out on the land as it is, while the technique with minimum tillage involves a surface refinement of the soil no deeper than a few metres.
Biological cycle: the life cycle of maize can be divided into three main phases: germination and rooting, vegetative development, flowering and ripening. The whole cycle has a total duration of about 130-150 days, which may be shorter in short-cycle varieties or longer in long-cycle varieties.
Maize has many uses, it is consumed as a food, it is also widely used in zootechnics for feeding animals on farms, it is used in industry for the production of flour and starch and finally it is also used as an energy source in biogas.
The main categories of maize include grain maize and fodder maize.
Maize varieties are specifically selected for the production of grain maize spikelets. Once the maize has reached maximum growth, it is harvested by picking the cobs with specific machines. After this process, cobs can be directly commercialised or shelled. The grain will then be treated according to use.
It can be subjected to brine processes for preservation and sale, it can be dry-milled to produce flour and wet-milled (immersed in water) to produce starch or it can be selected for animal use.
The varieties used in fodder production are selected not only to give a good grain yield but also to produce an important amount of biomass.