Establishment

Source of planting materials

Certified seeds are available from registered farm inputs stockists/ Agrovets or authorized agents of Seed Companies.

Land Preparation

Early land preparation is recommended as this ensures timely sowing. Land should be prepared before the onset of rains.
Maize requires a seedbed of medium tilth.

Propagation

Propagation is done through seeds.

Planting

The time of planting is most critical factor as it determines the yields. There is a drop of expected yields by 1-2% every day planting is delayed.
Where rainfall duration is short, dry planting 2-3 weeks before the onset of rains is recommended. In case of dry planting the seed are planted at 10 cm depth.
The normal planting depth is 2.5 – 5 cm depending on soil condition and temperature.

Maize Table 2: Recommended times of land preparation planting for different regions

Region/zone Ideal time for land preparation Ideal time of planting Remarks
Cashew nut/coconut

Jan – March

September – October

April – May

Mid October

Before or at onset of rains
Dryland/marginal low rainfall

February – March

September – October

Mid March

Mid October

Before or at onset of rains
Medium altitude/ rainfall Jan – March April – May
Highland/High rainfall

July – October

December –February

October – November

March – April

Spacing and plant population

Spacing and plant population is determined by the method of planting (either pure stand or intercrop) and rainfall.

Pure stand

Maize Table 3: Recommended spacing and plant population by zone

Zone Spacing Plants population (Plants/ha)
Tea 75 cm X 30 cm 44,000
Tea/Coffee 75 cm X 30 cm 44,000
Coffee 75 cm x 25 cm 53,000
Maize/sunflower 75 cm x 30 cm 44,000
Sugarcane 75 cm x 30 cm 44,000
Marginal/cotton 90 cm x 30 cm 37,000

Maize Intercrop

Maize does well when intercropped with beans or other legumes.

Intercropping with legumes is recommended for higher rainfall areas while pure stand is recommended for marginal rainfall areas.

When intercropping is done with beans or cowpeas, one or two rows of legumes are sown after every row of maize. The distance between bean plants is 15 cm for two plants per hole.

Recommended legumes for intercropping in Kenya are beans, pigeon peas, cowpeas, groundnuts and soya beans. Other crops that have been tried with varying success include potatoes, cassava and pumpkin.

Intercropping maize with beans and other legumes like desmodium regulates pests (leafhopper, leaf beetles, stalk borer, armyworm) and increases the land utility.

Intercropping maize with beans and squash enhances parasitism of caterpillars. This practice increases the abundance of natural enemies where food sources for beneficial insects are made available. The intercropping system of maize-beans-squash is a low input and high yield strategy in the tropics. Maize yield is increased by as much as 50% over monoculture yield. Although the yields for beans and squash are reduced, the overall yield for the three combined crops is greater than when grown separately in monocultures

Alternative uses of maize in inter cropping

  • Shading of vegetable crops by planting single rows between vegetables in areas of high intensity of sunshine can increase yields of intercropped vegetables.

  • Use as support for runner beans for export or local consumption.