Maize requires a fine, well prepared seedbed and a pH of 6.5 – 7.
The soil must be well drained and have a temperature of at least 10ºC in order for the maize to germinate. Soil structure must be good to facilitate seedbed preparation and adequate root development. Very light sandy soils will give reduced yields. If growing on heavy clay soils the sowing date may be delayed resulting in a later harvesting date. Therefore, a sandy loam is best as this soil type warms up very quickly in spring.
Careful site selection is vital in achieving high yields of high quality maize. However, varieties have evolved to ensure maximum performance in many conditions and maize can now be grown in some areas of land that were considered to be too poor before. Although the following conditions can still not be ignored:
1. The field must be sheltered and have a southerly aspect so that it will warm up quicker in spring. See the photos in the ‘Maize Development’ section. From these it is clear that field used for growing maize must be well sheltered.
2. Latitudes greater than 120metres above sea level should be avoided.
3. The area should not be subject to spring or autumn frosts and a long growing season is important.
4. The site should be easily accessible from roadways to avoid difficulties at harvesting.
5. The soil must meet the conditions described above.
6. For the first two years after grass, wireworms and leatherjackets may be a problem so this should be considered when choosing the site for growing maize.
7. Ideally, the site should be free of docks and if not they must be controlled by the previous autumn.