Maize or Corn

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Maize or Corn


Corn is a gift of the New World and its cultivation dates back to the days of Maya, Aztec and Inca civilizations, and was also associated with the life of many less civilized Indian tribes throughout the New World.

Physical and economic conditions. Corn is grown in such widely diverse conditions-both physical and economic-that it is difficult to generalize its environmental requirements. In fact, no other cereal is cultivated under such diverse climatic conditions and none is distributed so widely throughout the world and only wheat and rice occupy larger acreages.

However, the prevalent conditions of the American Corn Belt, the world's greatest, suggest that the crop grows best with a temperature of 21°C to 27°C. Frost is injurious, and, hence, 140 consecutive frost-free days should be present. Corn needs a plentiful supply of moisture throughout the growing season-an annual rainfall of 62.5 cm. to 125 cm. with a monthly occurrence of 8 cm. to 15 cm during the growing period.

Economic conditions are clearly divisible into two categories:

  • (a) Capital-intensive, and
  • (b) Labour intensive. Though the greater parts of the output are produced with extensive methods, the intensive farming of corn in China is, by no means, of little consequence.

    Producing regions. Although the growing of corn is very widely distributed, seven major zones of concentration are usually recognized.

  • (a) The United States Corn Belt.
  • (b) The United States Cotton Belt.
  • (c) The Humid part of the Argentina Pampa.
  • (d) The Danube Basin and the area along the Black Sea in Russia.
  • (e) The Mediterranean countries.
  • (f) The highlands of tropical America.
  • (g) China, India and Indonesia of Southeast Asia.

    Among these major zones, the American Corn Belt is by far the most important and it provides the basis of U.S. leadership in corn production, representing 40% of the world output.

  • (a) The Corn Belt accounts for about 67% of the corn acreage, indicating a high average yield. The Corn Belt extends from central Ohio to central Nebraska and from southern Illinois to southern Wisconsin and Minnesota. About 80% of the corn is fed to animals, much of it on the farms where it is grown.
  • (b) This belt, as the name indicates, specializes in cotton growing. But farmer has few acres under corn. The sum total of their output represents only 20% of the national total yield from about 33% of corn acreage.
  • (c) The Argentina Corn Belt lies to the west of the Parana River in the humid Pampa. This belt, covering about 64,750 sq. km. resembles the U.S. Corn Belt in its physical set up. Argentina produced 4.1 million metric tonnes of maize in 1987-88. In the same belt Brazil is another large producer of corn. She produces nearly double the amount of Argentina. Com provides the staple food for the poor people of which there is abundance. A large part is also fed to the animals. Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, and Rio Grande and Sul are the major districts.
  • (d) The corn belt of the Danube basin and the area around the Black sea rank third in production to the U.S.A. and China. The major countries of this region are Russia, Romania and Yugoslavia. The U.S.S.R and Romania produced 5.7 million metric tonnes and 12 million metric tonnes in 1987-88.
  • (e) The Mediterranean countries mostly cultivate corn under irrigated conditions and use the crop as primarily human food. Italy ranks first among the Mediterranean countries. Other countries are Spain, Portugal, France, the Barbary states on northern Africa and Egypt where corn is one of the major crops.
  • (f) The corn belt of the highlands of tropical America extends from the boundary of the United States to Argentina. The bulk of the population of native Indians derives their nourishment to an astonishing degree from corn. Corn is raised from small fields under undeveloped conditions. The important countries include Colombia, Peru and Venezuela.
  • (g) Excepting the northern part of China, corn is cultivated under impoverished physical conditions of which high humidity is particularly detrimental to higher productivity per unit land. In Indonesia, corn occupies about 15% of the total sown area and dried corn meal is second only to rice as an Indonesian foodstuff. Corn is widely grown as a foodstuff in the Philippines and other wet tropical parts of Southeast Asia, where it is used as a supplementary food to rice and sometimes as the main food crop in drier or rougher lands.

    In India, because of its adaptability to widely varied environmental conditions, maize is found to be grown in varying magnitudes all over the country except Kerala and Tripura. Most of the maize is grown in regions with an average annual rainfall of 50 cm. Maize occupies only about 6% of the cereal acreage in India, with production of 4 million metric tonnes in 1987-88

    Production. U.S.A. produced 208 million metric tons of corn is 1987-88 against the world's total production of 452 million metric tons. The Corn Belt extends from central Ohio to central Nebraska-a distance of about 900 miles. The width of the belt from north to south varies from 252 to 483 kms. Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Nebraska are the principal maize producing States of U.S.A. Because of introduction of hybrid corn, the yield in U.S.A. has increased to about 3000 lbs. per acre. Bulk of the production is fed to animals. In 1987-88 U.S.A. produced about 50 per cent of world's maize output. She had 34.2 million hectares of land under corn.

    Russia, China, Brazil and Mexico produced 11, 5, 4.8 and 3 per cent respectively of the world's production.

    Trade in maize or corn. The chief maize exporting countries are USA, Argentina and Rumania. The importing countries are U.K, Germany, France and Italy.

    Next: Cotton areas

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