Save time between crops—plant maize seedlings



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Content: To save time between crops, grow maize seedlings in a seedling bed. First, soak sections of dry maize cobs in liquid manure, put several seeds in each section, and then place the sections in a seedling bed until it is time to transplant them to the field.

After harvesting one crop from your land, it is common practice to remove the crop residue, cultivate the land, and then plant the next crop. It is likely that you do all this as soon as possible so that the next crop can be planted quickly. There may still be time to plant, grow, and harvest yet another crop on that land during the growing season. To be able to do this, however, you must not waste any time between one crop and the next. If you do, perhaps it may be too late to plant that third crop, or even a fourth crop.

There’s one way that you can save time between one crop and the next. You can have seedling plants already started in a seedling bed. Then you can plant them in your field instead of seeds. This way, you can save perhaps two weeks or more between crops because you don’t have to wait for the seeds to germinate after planting them in the field. Also, in a seedling bed, your plants can get a better start because of the special care you can give them.

Perhaps you already do this for tomatoes or other vegetable crops. But did you ever think of doing it for maize? If you could, you might even be able to save enough time between crops to grow one extra crop a year like they do in southern China. Farm broadcaster Wang Qi Xiang in Sichuan Province describes how farmers do it there.

The Chinese farmers start preparing for planting seven or eight weeks before they expect to actually set out their maize seedlings in the field. They grow their seedlings in something many people might throw away. They use old, dry maize cobs from which the seeds have been removed. They cut the cobs into sections 5 to 6 centimetres (2 to 2 1/2 inches) long. They soak these sections in liquid manure for 30 to 40 days. During this time, the sections become slightly rotten, but they do not rot so much that they lose their shape. When they are soft, the farmers push three maize seeds into the upper end of each section and place the sections side by side in rows in their seedling beds. Then they sprinkle a mixture of fine topsoil and compost on top of all these maize cob sections to a depth of 1 centimetre (1/2 an inch). After that, they water the whole seedling bed. If the weather is cool, they cover the bed with straw or black plastic. Then, after the seeds have germinated, they uncover the new seedling plants and water the bed again. When the maize seedlings have three leaves each, they are ready to plant out in the field. Be careful to plant the entire clump of three seedlings altogether without separating them from the specially treated section of maize cob in which they were planted.

With some careful planning and by following this method, you will be able to use less seed than you would if you planted the seeds directly into the field, and your maize crop will get a much better start. Depending on the weather, and on moisture conditions at planting time, your maize crop will be growing between one and three weeks earlier than if you planted your maize seeds directly