Maize

Maize

MAIZE

Maize (popularly known as corn in the United States) got its history as far back as 1492 when Columbus discovered it in Cuba. Though it was believed that the grain has been in existence and used in many regions, it was made widely known in the Columbus era. Discovered in America, it was later produced and exported to various countries of the world. Initially, maize was only used as a garden crop in Europe, but, it soon began to be appreciated as a valuable food crop.  Later, it spread throughout Italy, France, South East Europe and Africa. Among the top maize producing countries are United States, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, France, Argentina, Ukraine and South Africa. United State still remains the highest producer of maize.

maize

Yellow Maize (corn)

 

Cultivation

Maize grows very well in a warm climate and is mostly grown in countries with suitable climate conditions.  Its growth is usually triggered in high summer temperatures rather than high mean temperatures. It tolerates extreme heat and usually ripens during summer. Maize needs a large supply of water during growing stage and since its maturity period is always short, it can be easily grown at high latitudes. Maize has one of the highest yields per unit and harvest varies between 3 to 6.5 tons per acre depending cultivation and soil type.

 

Varieties

There are more than 50 different species of maize with having their own kernel sizes, color, structure and characteristics all grouped into a small number of types. The most common basic colors are the Red, White and yellow types. In some regions though, it is not out of place to find them in other shades like light red, pale yellow or red.  The kernel shape can be grouped into two: Dent maize (tooth shaped)  and flint maize( round shaped).

The most widely grown and the most common varieties are the white maize, plata maize and the yellow maize. The white maize is usually densely shaped with different texture varieties. The plata variety has a flint shape and is generally hard or glassy. For the yellow maize, they are mostly dent and relatively soft. In comparison, the plata varieties yield better grits than its softer mealy dent counterparts, but not preferred as raw material in some productions. Much importance however, is placed on the use of sound and high quality fresh grains as raw materials to finished goods.

 

White Maize

 

Uses

Maize contains 61% starch, 8.5% protein, 9.5% fiber and 4% oil. Both the white and yellow maize are used as food, for medicinal purpose and as raw material in industries. Some industrial uses of maize include packing materials, filler for plastics, adhesives, explosives, insulating material, paste, dyes, soaps, pharmaceuticals, rayon, insecticides, solvents, abrasives, paints, organic acids and many more. Maize is also used as a study plant in many academic disciplines such as physiology, genetics, biochemistry and soil fertility. The corn steep paste, which is a by-product of the wet maize, is commonly used in the biochemical industry as a culture medium to grow micro-organisms.

 

 

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