The importance of maize or corn lies in its wide variety of applications besides serving as human food and animal feed. It is a source for a large number of industrial products - maize corn, corn starch, corn oil, baby corn, popcorn, dairy feed, poultry feed, piggery, agro-industries, and so on. The huge potential for exports has added to the demand for maize all over world.
Maize is a cereal grain that was domesticated in Mesoamerica and then spread throughout the American continents. It spread to the rest of the world after European contact with the Americas in the late 15th century and early 16th century.
Maize is now widely cultivated around the world, and a greater weight of maize is produced each year than any other grain. While the United States produces almost half of the world's harvest, other top producing countries are as widespread as China, EU-25, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, France, Indonesia, and South Africa. Major consuming nations of corn are China and USA.
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Maize is classified on the basis of protein content and hardness of the kernel, and the different types include pop, flint,
flour, sweet and Indian corns. The planting of the maize crop is done in the spring season because of rains. Rains are very important for this crop, which is very sensitive to drought. Maize is generally cultivated in a two or three crop rotation.
While some maize varieties grow 7 m (23 ft) tall at certain locations, commercial maize has been bred for a height of 2.5 m (8 ft). Sweet corn is usually shorter than field-corn varieties.
Maize cultivars grown in the temperate zone are considered day-neutral and flower after a certain number of days at > 500 F (100C). However, maize cultivars from tropical locations typically have a short-day requirement for flowering and generally do not produce seed in the long summer days at higher latitudes. The day-length requirement for flowering is controlled genetically and regulated by the phyto chrome system.
The apex of the stem ends in the tassel, an inflorescence of male flowers. Each silk may become pollinated to produce one kernel of corn. Young ears can be consumed raw, with the cob and silk, but as the plant matures (usually during the summer months) the cob becomes tougher and the silk dries to inedibility. By late August the kernels have dried out and become difficult to chew without cooking them tender first in boiling water.
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The kernel of corn has a pericarp of the fruit fused with the seed coat, typical of the grasses. It is close to a multiple fruit in structure, except that the individual fruits (the kernels) never fuse into a single mass. The grains are about the size of peas, and adhere in regular rows round a white pithy substance, which forms the ear. An ear contains from two to four hundred grains, and is from 10–25 cm (4–10 in) in length. They are of various colours: blackish, bluish-gray, red, white and yellow. When ground into flour, maize yields more flour, with much less bran, than wheat does. However, it lacks the protein gluten of wheat and therefore makes baked goods with poor rising capability.
A genetic variation that accumulates more sugar and less starch in the ear is consumed as a vegetable and is called sweet corn.
There has been continuous increase in the consumption demand of corn mainly owing to increase in the demand from meat and starch sector. There is also a growing requirement of maize in poultry sector, which uses corn as feed.
Among the major exporters of corn, USA dominates the international trade followed by Argentina. Brazil. China, South Africa and Ukraine are minor exporters. Major importing nations of maize are Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Mexico, Egypt, Malaysia, EU and Colombia.
Main Maize producing states in India
Karnataka, AP, Bihar, MP. UP and Rajasthan are the main maize producing areas. It is also produced in Assam, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Gujarat, HP, Jammu Kashmir, and Orissa. Punjab, West Bengal etc. Expiry rate of maize is fixed according to Nizamabad mandi. Apart from Nizamabad, Karimnagar in AP is also a delivery centre. In Maharashtra, Jalna and Jalgaon are the delivery centres while in Karnataka, Davengere is a delivery centre. Nimbaheda in Rajasthan, Ratlam in MP and Bahraich in UP are the delivery centres which are approved by the NCDEX.
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