Dry Season Maize Farming in Nigeria
Dry season maize farming is the growing of maize in the dry season. This means the planting of the maize seeds, maintaining the maize field and harvesting the maize cobs in the dry season.
Dry season maize farming is done between the months of October and March in the southern part of Nigeria. In the northern part of Nigeria, dry season maize farming is done between the months of September – April.
Dry season maize farming can be profitable as few farmers grow maize in the dry season in Nigeria. The number of farmers growing maize in the dry season in Nigeria is due to the lack of rainfall.
Step By Step Guide to Start Dry Season Maize Farming in Nigeria
The following are the steps to take to start dry season maize farming in Nigeria:
- Choice of Farmland Site
- Types of Maize Seeds to Plant
- Land Preparation
- Irrigation System
- Labour Requirement
- Fertilizers to Use
- Pests and Diseases Management
- Harvest and Marketing
Planning is needed for you to engage in dry season maize farming in Nigeria. Planning involves the writing of a business plan and feasibility study. You also need to sort out issues related to financing and availability of capital.
Choice of Farmland Site
You need to get a good farmland for your dry season maize farming. Your soil should be rich in nutrients and not waterlogged.
The farmland site should also have good and accessible roads so that your maize produce can be easily evacuated to the market.
Type of Maize Seeds to Plant
The type of maize seeds to plant is one of the factors to look at for when engaging in dry season maize farming.
Some maize varieties can tolerate drought better than others. Hybrid maize varieties also resist pests and diseases than open pollinated maize varieties. Hybrid maize seeds are also known to have better yields than the open pollinated maize seeds.
Land preparation involves the removal of trees, stumps and weeds on the farmland. It also involves the ploughing, harrowing and ridging of the farmland.
For dry season maize farming, you should plough your soil several times so that it will be loose. Loose soil drain well, this can positively impact your maize crop.
For small farms, animals can be used for these tasks. For large farms, tractors have to be used.
For dry season maize farming, there are different types of irrigation systems that a farmer can use. Irrigation is needed for dry season maize farming in Nigeria. It is compulsory.
Below are some of the irrigation systems that can be used for dry season maize growing in Nigeria:
Drip Irrigation System: Drip irrigation is a type of irrigation that wets plants at their root level, it sends water to the roots of plants in a trickle format. A drip irrigation system consists of the drip tapes or tubings, submains, pumping station, Fertigation pump or venturi injector, connectors, end plugs and other fittings.
Rain Gun Irrigation System: The rain gun system is a sprinkler like gun that sprays droplets of water to plants. Rain guns irrigate crops by turning in a circular way. There are rain gun sprinklers with a radius of 20 -100 metres. A typical rain gun irrigation system consists of the rain gun, connector, tripod stand, hoses and pump station.
Spray Tube Irrigation System: The spray tube is a type of sprinkler that sprinkles droplets of water to crops. The spray tube irrigation system consists of hoses and fittings. The hoses work like sprinklers. Spray tubes are also called rain hoses or sumisansui hoses.
Flood Irrigation System: Flood irrigation system involves flooding the furrow of the beds of ridges on a farmland with water. This type of irrigation is not too efficient; however, it can be used for dry season maize farming.
Sprinkler Irrigation System: The sprinkler irrigation system uses sprinklers connected to hoses or pipes to sprinkle droplets of water to crops.
You need to sort out labour issues if you want to be successful as a dry season maize farmer in Nigeria. Labourers can be sourced from Nigeria and the neighboring countries like the Republic of Benin, Republic of Niger and Chad.
Labourers are usually paid at the end of the season.
For dry season maize farming, planting should be done in September – April. Please note that the time for dry season maize farming in southern Nigeria is different from that of northern Nigeria.
You should do a soil analysis to reveal the nutrients profile of your soil before engaging in dry season maize farming in Nigeria. There are several types of fertilizers that can be used for dry season maize farming, they are:
- NPK 15:15:15
- Potassium Nitrate
- Calcium Nitrate
Pests and Diseases’ Management
Insects and flies are prevalent in the dry season in Nigeria. To engage in dry season maize farming in Nigeria, you need to manage pests and diseases efficiently.
The following can be used to manage pests and diseases in dry season maize cultivation in Nigeria:
- Acaricides etc.
Harvest and Marketing
Maize should be harvested when they are matured. Maize grains are usually costlier when harvested and sold at the tail end of the dry season or the beginning of the rainy season.
Advantages of Dry Season Maize Farming
The following are the advantages of dry season maize farming in Nigeria:
Dry season maize farming is more profitable than the rainy season maize farming. Maize prices are usually high at the tail end of the dry season and the beginning of the rainy season.
Fungal diseases are not prevalent in the dry season in Nigeria. This can go a long way in increasing the yield of the maize crop.
Dry season maize farming can provide jobs for people.
Dry season maize farming enhances food production in the nation.
Problems facing dry season maize farming
The following are the problems or challenges facing dry season maize farming in Nigeria:
- Lack of capital
- Scarcity of drought tolerant maize varieties
- Lack of irrigation facilities
- Inadequate farm hands or labourers