By Albert Makendenge
HOW TO GROW GREEN MEALIES
Highways and roadsides are already lined up by vendors selling either fresh or cooked/roasted mealies in the popular “gocha” business. This is an easy dollar business that one can start with little capital and the information below takes you through the production process.
Deep, red, fertile and well drained soils with an optimum pH of 5.2 to 5.8 are the best.
Green mealies can be produced in both summer and winter if the temperature and soil moisture conditions remain adequate but generally maize is a warm weather crop in which the total seasonal rainfall exceeds 500mm.
Planting window is a very critical consideration especially when it comes to frost avoidance and therefore it should be done after the frost occurrence (around July or August). 90cm by 30cm is the general spacing for the plants and about 5cm the depth at planting.
Application of fertilizers is heavily recommended if one is to get a good crop establishment and marketable cobs (compound D at the time of planting and ammonium nitrate (nitrogen fertilizers) at 4 weeks and at flowering/tasselling stage in what is known as split application)
Up to 600mm of well and evenly distributed rainfall across space and time is required for a good gocha mealie crop.
Pests, weeds and diseases
Maize stalk borer and maize streak virus are among the top (pests and diseases) enemies of maize. Weeds should be controlled early and lightly with the practice repeated about 2 to 3 times across the entire season depending on the rate of infestation.
Generically early dough stage (just after milk stage) is regarded as the best time for harvesting green mealies, which is about 3 weeksafter flowering depending on variety.