Maize is commonly known as corn in some countries. The growing of corn first began in Mesoamerica and has since spread throughout the American continents. Today maize is the largest crop in the Americas. There has been much disagreement about the origin of maize in Mesoamerica. There are some reports that the Spanish first grew maize in southern Mexico. The domestication of maize has been dated back as far back as 12,000 years ago.
The United States produces the largest amount of maize throughout the world, but there are other countries that also produce high quantities of maize as well such as China, Brazil and South Africa. In 2003 there was six hundred metric tons of maize produced in the world. Maize can only be produced in areas that do not have extreme cold temperature, as it is a cold-intolerant crop.
Maize is susceptible to many pests:
- Corn Earworm – This pest is actually a moth whose larvae feed on various crops that have been cultivated by humans.
- European Corn Borer – This pest of grain is native to Europe and originally began infesting various forms of millet and broom corn. These animals damage the ears and stalks of the corn. They chew through the stalks and cause the corn to fall over.
- Western Corn Rootworm – Of all the pests that pose a danger to maize, the western corn rootworm is the worst. If left untreated the rootworm larvae can destroy a great percentage of a corn crop. It has been estimated that 30 million acres of maize crops have been infested with western corn rootworm.
Maize can also be affected by various diseases. These range from bacteria diseases to fungal diseases and finally viruses and virus-like diseases.
- Corn Smut – this is caused by a plant fungus. Although it infects any part of the plant it normally enters the ovaries and replaces normal growing kernels with large tumours. The infected kernels give the corn a burned appearance.
- Stewart’s Wilt – this is a bacterial disease of corn. The disease actually comes from the corn flea beetle because the disease lives in the gut of the beetle during the winter and is then spread when the beetle feeds on the seedlings. Sweet corn is more susceptible to this type of disease.