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This cereal crop has three main uses - in developing countries, maize is a staple of human food and in developed countries. In NZ, it is used as stock feed either as grain or silage. Maize grain crops are grown for their grain content, and maize silage crops are harvested as whole crops: stem, leaf and cob. Maize is also used for ethanol production.


  • Very palatable source of energy - highest levels of starch and energy of all cereal grains

  • Efficient at extracting soil nutrients for example effluent paddocks reducing leaching and fertilizer inputs  

  • Used as a ‘break cover crop’ in the pasture renewal

  • Efficient plant at converting the sun’s radiation into biomass 

  • C4 carbon fixation makes it an efficient user of available water in the soil

  • Quality animal feed, the form of grain or silage.

  • Silage and grain are high-value, high-carbohydrate crops

  •  When used for silage, it is harvested when the plant is green, and the grain is immature.


  • Drought-sensitive - the root system is shallow, dependent on soil moisture

  • Cold intolerant and frost tender

  • Insect pests attack during establishing and without adequate pest control plant losses can occur.


  • Maize seed is normally sown around 5cm deep

  • Requires substantial nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) 

  • Best planted in spring in temperate areas of NZ