Maize growing in Uganda

Maize is one of the most popular foods grown in Uganda contributing about 40% of the daily food that is prepared by Ugandans across the country. Maize in Uganda is commonly grown in the districts of Kabarole, Mubende, Masindi, Jinja, Iganga, Kamuli, Mbale and Kasese. It is a widely grown cereal because it is quite easy to grow as all you need are the seeds and a piece of land.

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Types of maize grown in Uganda

There are two types of maize that are grown in the country and these are the Hybrids and open pollinated varieties (OPV). The open pollinated varieties are the most commonly used maize seeds because they are easy to get and can be re-planted for at least two years without purchase of new ones. When choosing the best type to use, you should consider disease and pest resistant, adaptability of the seeds and the time that they take to reach maturity.

Land preparation for maize

It is extremely important to prepare land early enough so that their there are weeds, they need to dry up and decompose before the actual planting takes place. There are two major ways in which land preparation for maize in Uganda is done and this is either by using conventional methods that is by using tractors or an ox-plough and the other is by using conservation methods that is use of hoes and this is the mostly used method.

Planting of maize should be done at least two weeks after the planting season has started (onset of rains). When planting make sure that you have about 30cm of wet soil as this helps you cover the spaced holes after placing the maize in it. The holes need to be moist before you place the maize in them and you also need to make sure that there are no soil clods and stones in the soil as you cover the maize. Maize planting should be done in a day if possible.

Soil fertility is one of the main things that are focused on when it comes to maize plantation. Uganda as a country has fertile soils that are good for maize but there are times when there is a drought and the soils are dry and yet planting needs to be done so you need to make sure that the soil will favor the maize. You can use organic fertilizers or inorganic fertilizers (chemicals). Some of the chemicals that are used for soil fertilization include calcium ammonium phosphate (CAN) which is when the maize is at knee length and Di-ammonium phosphate (DAP) which is used during planting among other fertilizers. Farmers need to follow all the rules and regulations that are put on the fertilizer bags so that they are not used in excess to avoid damages to the maize.

Weather conditions and the region where the parenting are one of the factors that determine how the maize can be planted that is the depth varies between 2 to 10 cm, 2 to 3 cm in highland areas and about 5 to 10 cm in dry and sandy soils. The centimeters allow the maize plants to get the much needed water and nutrients for a better growth.

Weeds are extremely common when planting maize and the most commonly used methods are use of insecticides and hand weeding. Hand weeding is recommended because it does not cause any harm and the first weeding should be done three weeks after the emergence of the crops from the ground and the second is done when the maize plants are almost knee length.

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What you need to know when growing maize in Uganda

  • Spacing should be the one that is recommended

  • The layer of soil covering the maize should be thin

  • Harvest the maize when the maize plant starts drying and the comb is filled out perfectly.

  • Maize harvesting normally takes place around the 8th week after planting

A maximum of 3 seeds should be put in every hole.

Harvesting of maize in Uganda

Harvesting of maize depends on what the farmer needs to use the maize for that is fresh for eating, for grain making and for silage making. When it is meant for silage making, the whole plant is harvested at the milk stage, it is harvested when it is dry if it is meant for grain making and if it is fresh for eating, it is harvested when the cob is still green.

There are several methods used in harvesting and the most common ones used in Uganda include:

Mechanized harvesting

This is where machines like tractors are used for harvesting and it is the best for large scale farming. The machines harvest, remove ears, shells and also partially clean the grain.

Manual harvesting

This is the commonest method used while harvesting maize because it is cheap. Manual harvesting includes pulling ears from the stalk, removing husks and cleaning the grain. This can take about 6-7 people depending on the size of the farm.