Maize, ground to mealie meal and made into sadza, is and has always been the staple diet of the majority of Zimbabweans. White maize (sometimes Flint Maize) as opposed to yellow maize or 'corn' is the most common in Africa.
When the Pioneer Column arrived in 1890, maize was found to be grown here, and they obtained seed from them. There are indications it was introduced here some time before C19.
In 1903, the Department of Agriculture was formed, a journal was published, and experimental farms were established, all with the objective of producing sufficient product to be exported. About 50 000 bags were grown then, all consumed locally. In 1909, enough was produced to allow for substantial exports. In 1921, a survey showed that that year's crop of 1 200 000 bags was produced by 963 farmers. A breeding programme began in 1932, and seed was available by 1949 - 1950.
Falling prices around 1931 led to the formation of the Maize Control Board, then WW2 disruptions led to the Maize Control Act in 1940, which was replaced in 1950 by the Grain Marketing Act, which set up a government monopoly on most grains including beans, rapoko, sorghum, mhunga and others. In 1952 the Grain Marketing Board replaced the Maize Control Board and became, outside the subsistence economy, the sole authority for marketing grains in the country.
1985 - 1986, area under maize was estimated at 200 000ha. Average yield 4.0 tonnes/ha. End 1983 - 84 (drought year), stocks held by GMB were 122 700 tonnes.
|Yield (t/ha)||3 699||4 066||5 975||4 277||2 582||4 300||5 900|
|Yield (t/ha)||n/a||n/a||2 522||1 518||472||400||700|
|Area (000ha)||600||900||1 114||1 100||1 050||1 136||1 188|
|Est. Total (000t)||1 160||1 625||2 767||1 706||844||1 283||2 960|
In 1986, eight locally produced hybrids were readily available. Early to late maturing varieties.
Planting and Weed Control (1986 best practice)
Maize is best planted by mid-November. Later panting will result in lower yiilds (in regular conditions).
Row widths - 100cm, 90cm and 75cm. Increased herbicide use leading to 75cm being more common (USA widths are usually 75cm).
Depth - commonly 50mm.
Nitrogen, sulphur, phosphate and potassium most frequently added chemicals.
Can produce yeilds above 10 tonnes per hectare.
Maize stalk borer, maize snout beetle, cutworms, surface beetles, Africa armyworm, maize caterpillar, cobworm, termits, leaf hoppers and aphids.
March (for early planted), May to July for late planted.
Drying and Storage
Natural and artificial drying can be widely used.
- [R. Kent Rasmussen (ed), Historical Dictionary of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia] (The Scarecrow Press, London, 1979) Retrieved 27 July 2021"
- [Katherine Sayce (Ed), Tabex, Encyclopedia Zimbabwe], Tabex, Encyclopedia Zimbabwe, (Quest Publishing, Harare, 1987), Retrieved: 25 July 2019