White Maize

Where does it come from?

Maize is defined in the botanic family as Poaceae or Gramineae, alongside wheat, oats, rice, barley and rye. It is widely believed that the ancient habitants of Mesoamerica (Mexico and Central America) started to cultivate “teocintles” (a very maize-like gramineae that grows naturally in those regions). It is expected that the first populations of teosinte grew in the center of Mexico or those in the dry tropics of the Balsas Basin are the ancestors of which white maize was domesticated in general.

Where does it grow?

According to estimates the current world production of white maize is around 65 to 70 million tons, this represents around 12% to 13% of annual world corn production incorporating all types of corn. More than 90% of white maize is produced in developing countries. In contrast to the biggest corn producer in the world, the United States of America, which produces less than 1% white maize within its total corn production.

One of the regions where it occurs is in Africa, where Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe are the countries that have the highest production of this type. In Mexico, being an important part of the Mexican culture and cultural roots, maize is the crop with the largest geographic distribution and part of the customs and every day gastronomy. White corn accounts for 90% of total corn production in Mexico, according to information from the Minister of agriculture, livestock, rural development, fishing and food (SAGARPA) 2014 (PV + OI).
Additionally, it is a very important part of the production chain for livestock farming and for producing many different industrial products.
Northern Mexico is the region which has most technical development, there are large areas of irrigation, high usage of hybrid seeds, the largest farms and monoculture farmers.
In contrast to southern Mexico, which is characterized by many small farmers without irrigation systems that use mainly native maize and usually divide their plots to plant maize with other crops such as beans, squash and chili.

How the development and cultivation of white maize has developed over the years?

Most of the states of Mexico have a very high portion of landraces and use low technology in its production processes. However, seed companies have developed high-yielding hybrids in recent years. In the north region of Sinaloa, the growers predominantly plant hybrids, which have a current average yield of 10.6 t / ha (OI season according to SAGARPA 2014).

GMO’s have been tested in only a few places in Mexico, but still haven’t been able to access the Mexican market for commercial exploitation. This is partly due to fear of the health consequences perceived by people; but also and not less important, because it is feared that these new materials will result in the contamination of native varieties and the genetic variability that has been protected for a long time could be lost.

In this regard, every improvement in the production system (without GMO's), have focused on:

  • Creation of new hybrids:
    • Increased performance
    • Greater resistance to lodging
    • Improved grain quality
    • Better tolerance / resistance to disease
  • Cultivation methods
    • ​Use of drills/seeders
    • Distance between plants and rows
    • Plant density
    • Irrigation
  • Efficient control of pests and weeds
    • Using seed treatments or to include seed treatments on the seed
    • Effective products for budworm control
    • Extensive use of non-selective herbicides, including using post emergence bell
    • Use of pre-emergent products

All of the above are mostly associated to hybrid seeds and not Creole.

Kleffmann Group maize facts:

The Kleffmann Group established that the market for hybrid maize seeds in Mexico is mainly dominated by two companies. Even though the agrochemical market has been contracting over the past three years, the use of hybrid seeds has increased. The reason is that more small farmers use less agrochemicals, or none at all, and if they do they use mostly herbicides and they just cultivate corn. On the contrary, the biggest growers in Mexico use both herbicides and insecticides. Moreover, corn growers usually won’t associate the brands of the agrochemicals they use with the correct manufacturer (although, they are more familiar with seed brands).

Omar Olmos

Kleffmann Group

Regional Manager North LATAM