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Maize, Sweet corn

[R] Zea maysL. (Poaceae).
Fr: Mas; Ge: Mais; Sp: Maiz; It: Mais; Pt: Milho.
- Tall (1 to 2 m), annual cereal originating in Central America and introduced to Europe in the 16th century.
- It has a single, large-diameter stem supporting leaves in the axil of which are the female flowers which, after fertilization, give the ears. The male flowers are grouped in a terminal panicle ("tassle") (*) .
- While originating in hot regions, the area of maize cultivation has extended increasingly northward with the development of varieties that are resistant to cold. Not only is the amount of surface area in cultivation increasing, but its yield has quadrupled in the past 25 years. France and Italy are the principal European producers.
- Hybrids with superior yields and greater morphological uniformity are used in cultivation, which has permitted the development of increased mechanization and a better resistance to lodging.
- Maize is cultivated for its seeds, rich in starch, that are used in nutrition, human and animal, or in various industries. The entire plant may be used for animal feed either fresh or in silage.
Maize has numerous markets: agricultural and nutrition industries (biscuits, pastries, breweries, distilleries, etc.), it is used to make glue in the textile industry, as a sweetener, in pharmaceutical products; and, more recently, in biodegradable plastics and biofuels. It may also serve as a base in human nutrition (polenta in Italy).
Harvest occurs when the ears have lost their green colour.
- Forage maize is advancing: better yields, greater ease of cultivation, more appetizing. It is cultivated in the same way as grain maize, but is harvested earlier.
- Sweet corn and popcorn, whose seeds burst and swell when heated, are grown for human consumption and are cultivated in the same manner as grain varieties.
- Diseases: apart from losses when the seedings emerge, counter strategies consist chiefly of researching and using increasingly resistant cultivars.
- Principal European pests: the principal damage affects seedlings, caused by the rook (Corvus frugigelus), the bean seed fly (Delia platura), the common wood mouse (Apodemus sylvaticus), the cereal cyst nematode (Heterodera avenae), the masch crane fly (Tipula paludosa), the grass and cereal fly, Geomyza tripunctata Fallen (Dip., Opomyzidae), the turnip moth (Agrotis segetum), the dark sword-grass moth (Agrotis ipsilon), slugs and the frit fly (Oscinella frit).
Also damaging are the European corn borer (Ostrinia nubilis), the two-spotted spider mite (Tetranychus urticae), the bird-cherry aphid (Rhopalosiphum padi), the (Metopolophium dirhodum), the grain aphid (Sitobion avenae) and the American army worm (Mythimna unipunctata).

[R] Images

* Maize (Minost C.)
a: root; b: enshealthing leaf; c: ear (outcome of the development of female flowers); d: stem hollow; e: male inflorescence (panicule).

To read this page in French

HYPPZ on line: Species (scientific names), Pests (common names), Glossary, Crops.

HYP3 : HYPP Phytopathology.

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