Effect of Plant Population, Fertility levels and Detasseling on the Growth, Yield and Quality of Kharif Baby Corn (Zea mays.L)  

Abstract Category: Science
Course / Degree: PhD(Agronomy)
Institution / University: Institute of Agriculture Science BHU, India
Published in: 2010

Thesis Abstract / Summary:

Grain production in the country has touched the plateau and food security is almost sustained .Nevertheless the economic potential of Indian farmers needs to be enhanced at utmost priority because grain production alone is no more remunerative. Therefore, now it has become essential to ponder that, how the crop cultivation itself can excel the economic condition of the farming community. An interesting recent development in this context is growing maize for vegetable purpose as “baby corn”. The intensification and diversification in crop production together with value addition and economic viability, the cultivation of this crop can improve the condition of economically handicapped farmers. This approach can fetch very high income with in a quite short period, and at the same time can generate rural employment also.

The term “baby corn” commonly used by the food industry, refers to the young cob of maize harvested within 2-3 days of silk emergence. This is a delicious and nutritive vegetable fetching a very high price in national and international markets. Thailand and Taiwan are the major producers of baby corn in the world and have emerged as largest exporters. Thai farmers have developed this product into a multi-million dollar business. In India, this industry is still at the juvenile stage and increasing attention is being paid by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research to explore its potential. Baby corn has also been included in the scheme for development of infra-structural facilities for integrated projects on its cultivation and processing along with mushroom, hops and gherkins by the Ministry of the Food Processing Industries, Government of India, during the eleventh Five Year Plan.

Baby corn can be consumed in fresh form or used as an ingredient in various preparations like chop-suey (Chinese dish), soups, deep fried with meat or rice, sautéed with other vegetables, pickles, corn pakoras, etc. Fresh baby corn ears used as decorative, crisp vegetable in salad. It is popular as canned or stir-fried with vegetables in Chinese-American restaurants. The nutritive value of baby corn is comparable with several high-priced vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, French bean, spinach, lady’s finger, brinjal, tomato, radish, etc. It is rich in phosphorus content (86 mg/100 g edible portion) in comparison to 21 to 57 mg phosphorus content in other commonly used vegetables. It is an attractive low calorie vegetable, high in fiber content and low in cholesterol. Besides nutritive advantage, it is also free from residual effect of pesticides (because it is harvested within a week emergence and the young cob is wrapped up tightly with husk and well protected from enemies giving very little time to the disease and insect-pests to attack), whereas other vegetables cannot be grown without the protected umbrella of pesticides.

The lack of knowledge about the use and economic importance of baby corn and non-availability of appropriate production technology are the major constraints for its popularization among Indian maize growers. The net income from grain maize on an average is around Rs 15,000 per hectare, which is quite low as compared to four to five times higher net income per hectare from a single crop of baby corn (2-3 crops of baby corn can be taken in a season, depending upon agro-climatic conditions). Apart from benefits to the farmers, baby corn has a great scope as a foreign-exchange earner for the country.

Although, not much is known regarding its production technology, however among the production factor nutritional requirement and the plant population is of immense importance in baby corn production. Thakur et al. 1997 reported that; the lack of knowledge, with regard to use and economic importance of this product also seems the issue of attention .The balanced fertilizer schedule for maximum yield of baby corn and green fodder, and maintaining the proper soil health as well is dire essential as a part of the crop production.

The crop being exhaustive in nature requires balanced supply of all three N, P, K and zinc when grown on most of the soils of Indo-gangetic plain. The slow initial growth yellowish green color and premature senescence of the lower leaves are the major nitrogen deficiency system in maize crop. Similarly purple coloration of leaves is caused due to decrease in protein synthesis as a result of P deficiency. This leads to increase in sugar concentration in the plant tissue, results defective ears.

The leaves of potassium deficient maize plant turn light green or streaked with yellow marking. The tips and margin of the leaves become necrotic. Barrenness in maize crop also increase due to potassium deficiency. In north- western Indian plains maize plants also exhibit zinc deficiency system, particularly on light soil under intensive cropping system. Thus nutrient management plays an important role in baby corn production. Consequently, maize can exhibit its potential to produce baby corn only when fertilized with required plant nutrients in adequate quantities.

The yield of baby corn also depends to a great extent on the number of plants per unit area. It is of great importance to establish the optimum plant population for the region concern, because unlike the plants of tillering traits i.e.; rice or wheat baby corn can not compensate for lost space. However, the number of plant per unit area depends on the variety, its duration, productivity of soil and water supply.

Detasseling is the process of removal of tassel. The days to tassel emergence in maize is depend on the weather condition prevails during crop growth and variety .However in kharif season it occurs between 45-55th days. Various workers reported that the tassel removal enhances the yield of baby corn by 10- 15 per cent. The primary effect of removing the tassel is the increase in the amount of radiation available for the leaf photosynthesis and reduced intra plant competition between leaves and the tassel for the nutrients (Hunter et al. 1969). Therefore it shows direct impact on plant densities.

Keeping the above fact in view, and realizing the importance of nutrient management, population density and tassel removal, the present investigation entitled “Effect of plant population, fertility levels, and detasseling on growth, yield and quality of kharif baby corn (Zea mays L.) was undertaken during 2003 and 2004 at the agricultural research farm , Department of Agronomy, Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi with following objectives.

1.              To find out the optimum plant population, fertility level and the effect of detasseling on growth, yield and quality of baby corn.

2.              To study the effect of treatments on fodder yield and quality.

3.              To work out the economics of treatments.

The Field experiment was carried out during two consecutive kharif seasons of 2003 & 04 at the Research farm, Institute of agricultural sciences, BHU Varanasi. The soil of experimental field was sandy clay loam with the  PH 7.4 , organic carbon 0.31 % ,available nitrogen 216 kg/ha ,available phosphorus 18.3 kg/ha , potassium 184 kg/ha, zinc 0.52 ppm and sulphur 13.82 kg/ha. Experiment was laid out in split-split plot design. The constituted fertility were four in number considering nitrogen, phosphorus , potassium and zinc as a constituents of it in a proportionate form as F1 (40: 20: 13.3 : 0.25), F2(80 :40: 26.6 : 0.50), F3(120 : 60: 40: 0.75) and F4(160 : 80 : 53.33 :1.0) comprised  kg ha-1 N : P2O5 : K2O : Zn (chelated), which were assigned to main plot. Three plant population i.e. one lakh (P1), one lakh twenty five thousand (P2) and one lakh fifty thousand (P3) were allotted to the sub plot. To observe the effect of detasseling two treatments i.e. W1 (plant bearing the tassel) W2 (Plant with out tassel) were allocated to sub -sub plot. Urea, DAP MOP and chelated zinc were used as source for NPK and Zn respectively. Other crop management practices were carried as per recommended practices.

Crop response to  the treatments were measured in terms of growth attributes i.e. plant stand(000 ha-1) plant height(cm) , number of green leaves/plant , leaf area index, chlorophyll content of leaves ,stem diameter, dry matter/ plant(g) ,crop growth rate and reproductive indices viz. day to 50, 75 and 100 % plucking ,harvest duration .The yield and yield attributes like barrenness(%), number of ear / plant ,baby corn length, girth ,weight and first and subsequent cob and  baby corn yield ,fodder yield, nutrient uptake by baby corn and fodder and quality of baby of corn and fodder viz. protein , carbohydrate  (%), N,P,K and Zn content. Finally the economics of various treatments were worked out in term of gross return, net return and benefit: cost ratio.

Various treatments in their study reflected their effect and efficiency in affecting mentioned quantitative and qualitative parameters. The salient findings are summarized below.

Growth Attributes

The Plant growth attributes like plant height, no. of leaves LAI, stock girth, CGR and plant dry matter were immensely influenced by different treatments. Fertility levels affected almost every growth characters significantly. The F4 (160 : 80 : 53.33 : 1.0- NPK Zn kg ha-1)recorded highest value for all the growth parameters. However, the effect of fertility level were more pronounced at 30, 45. 60 DAS and at harvest.

Plant population also influenced plant growth and developmental parameters. P1 (1lakh plant/ha) recorded tallest plant at all the growth stages but only significant variation was observed at 45 DAS. Green leaves /plant differed significantly at all the growth stages and maximum numbers of leaves / plant were recorded with lowest plant density. The chlorophyll content in leaves was also affected due to variation in plant population. However the SPAD value was found significantly higher only in case of P1 (1 lakh plant/ha) and that too at 60 DAS.

The LAI was found always greater with P1 at all the growth stages except at 15 DAS when plants at different population densities could not show any variation in leaf area index.

The dry matter accumulation (g/plant) was recorded always more with P1(1 lakh plant/ha) at all the growth stages .However, the CGR (Crop Growth Rate) was observed higher with the maximum plant density(1.5 lakh plant/ha).

Interaction effect of fertility level and plant population also showed significant effect at different growth stages on CGR values. Which was recorded significantly better with F4 (160:80:53.3:1.0) x P3 (1.5 lakh plant/ha) at 60 DAS.

Yield Attributes and Yield

Days to 50% ,75% and 100% harvesting of baby corn could not  be influenced significantly by fertility levels but comparatively more longer  harvest period prevailed  with F4 (160 : 80 : 53.33 : 1.0) due to early flowering and cob emergence.

Final plant stand differed significantly for various fertility levels and maximum plant stand were observed with F4.

Barren plant per plot reduced with the increase in fertility levels. The number & weight of baby corn /plant, and its length and girth were significantly influenced by the fertility levels, and greater values pertaining to these parameters were observed with F4. 

The first, subsequent and total cobs & baby corn yield were significantly influenced by increasing fertility levels. F4 (160 : 80 : 53.33 : 1.0) registered superiority over all other lower levels .The effect of fertility levels on the yield of baby corn was observed in order of F4> F3> F2> F1. Highest fodder yield was also noted with maximum fertility level.

Plant population significantly influenced the yield and yield determinants. Yields of  the  first, subsequent and total cob as well as baby corn yield were  significantly greater  together with harvest duration at highest plant density (i.e. 000/ha). The length and girth of baby corn did not vary significantly among themselves due to variation in plant population. Barren plant / plot were more in P3.

Detasseling significantly reduced the barrenness. Number of cob / plant, and cob weight increased during both the years due to Detasseling. Consequently it resulted in increased first, subsequent and total baby corn yield. However the fodder yield was not affected due to detasseling.

F x P, F x W interaction for barren plant per plot, subsequent cob and total baby corn yield were found to be significant. How ever F x W interaction was observed only with subsequent and total baby corn yield.

Nutrient content and their Uptake:

The NPK & Zn content as well as Protein and carbohydrate content in baby corn increased with the increasing level of fertility. The values of all these constituents were always greater at the maximum fertility level (F4- 160: 80: 50.33: 1.0). The uptakes of NPK & Zn were also highest when the applied fertility was maximum (F4).           

The protein and carbohydrate as well as NPK & Zn contents of baby corn and fodder were did not affected significantly due to variation in plant population. But Zn was noted maximum in case of P1 (1 lakh plant/ha).Regarding the uptake of NPK and Zn, it was found higher at greater plant density.

Detasseling affected the protein, carbohydrate, NPK and Zinc content of baby corn as well as green fodder. But magnitude of the difference was statistically not significant. Regarding total uptake of NPK and zinc, it was found higher with the detasseled plant.


The gross return, net return and benefit cost ratio increased with increasing fertility levels. Among the plant population density 1.5 lakh/ha provided maximum gross return, net return as well as benefit cost ratio.     Detasseling also enhanced all the economic parameters and higher values of all these were recorded with this treatment.

Available NPK and zinc content of Soil

The build up in NPK and Zinc content of soil were recorded with the highest fertility i.e. F4 (160 : 80 : 50.33 : 1.0). However, more NPK and Zinc content in soil were observed at lower plant density.

Detasseling could not affect the NPK and zinc status of soil but zinc content in soil during the experimental year 2004 was noted to be improved.


In the view of above findings the following conclusions can be drawn

1)      The baby corn fertilized with 160: 80: 53.3 (N, P2O5, K2o kg /ha) and 1 Kg chelated zinc produced maximum yield and improved the quality of baby corn and buildup the soil nutrients status.

2)      The 1.5 lakh plant population /ha was found optimum for baby corn, fodder yield and also fetches highest net return.

3)      Detasseling  i.e. removal of tassel is desirable practice in baby corn production


On the basis of above conclusion it is being recommended  that maize during kharif season grown for baby corn production be planted at 1.5 lakh  plant population, fertilized with 160 kg N. 80 Kg P2O5, 53.3 Kg K2O ,1kg Chelated zinc ha-1 &  detasseled to obtain maximum and qualitative yield.

Thesis Keywords/Search Tags:
babycorn,fertlity levels,plantpoulation,detasseling ,yield ,qualiy

This Thesis Abstract may be cited as follows:
Singh.S.k 2010 "Effect of fertility levls ,plant poulation and detasseling on the growth yield and quality of babycorn (zea mays.l) PhD thesis BHU Varnasi India

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Science - Effect of Plant Population, Fertility levels and Detasseling on the Growth, Yield and Quality of Kharif Baby Corn (Zea mays.L) sudheer
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Submission Details: Thesis Abstract submitted by Sudheer Singh from India on 26-Mar-2011 14:57.
Abstract has been viewed 7069 times (since 7 Mar 2010).

Sudheer Singh Contact Details: Email: sksingh107@yahoo.com

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