Maize (Zea mays L) is one of the most versatile emerging crops having wider adaptability under varied agro-climatic conditions. Globally, maize is known as queen of cereals because it has the highest genetic yield potential among the cereals. It is cultivated on nearly 150 m ha in about 160 countries having wider diversity of soil, climate, biodiversity and management practices that contributes 36 % (782 m t) in the global grain production. The United States of America (USA) is the largest producer of maize contributes nearly 35 % of the total production in the world and maize is the driver of the US economy. The USA has the highest productivity (> 9.6 t ha-1) which is double than the global average (4.92 t ha-1). Whereas, the average productivity in India is 2.43 t ha-1.
In India, maize is the third most important food crops after rice and wheat. According to advance estimate it is cultivated in 8.7 m ha (2010-11) mainly during Kharif season which covers 80% area. Maize in India, contributes nearly 9 % in the national food basket and more than Rs. 100 billion to the agricultural GDP at current prices apart from the generating employment to over 100 million man-days at the farm and downstream agricultural and industrial sectors. In addition to staple food for human being and quality feed for animals, maize serves as a basic raw material as an ingredient to thousands of industrial products that includes starch, oil, protein, alcoholic beverages, food sweeteners, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, film, textile, gum, package and paper industries etc.
Recent trends (2003-04 to 2008-09) in growth rate of area (2.6 %), production (6.4 %) and productivity (3.6 %) of maize in India has been of high order and experienced highest growth rate among the food crops. Since 1950-51, the area, production and productivity of maize have increased by more than 3.4, 12 and 4.5 times from 3.2 m ha, 1.7 m t and 547 kg ha-1 to current level of 8.17 m ha, 19.33 m t and 2414 kg ha-1, respectively due to increasing maize demand for diversified uses. In India, the maize is used as human food (23%), poultry feed (51 %), animal feed (12 %), industrial (starch) products (12%), beverages and seed (1 % each). With the increasing trends of maize production, the projected demand of maize (22.73 m t) by the end of XIth five year plan (2011-12) will be achieved through improved maize production technologies focused on �Single Cross Hybrids�.
The maize is cultivated throughout the year in all states of the country for various purposes including grain, fodder, green cobs, sweet corn, baby corn, pop corn in peri-urban areas. The predominant maize growing states that contributes more than 80 % of the total maize production are Andhra Pradesh (20.9 %), Karnataka (16.5 %), Rajasthan (9.9 %), Maharashtra (9.1 %), Bihar (8.9 %), Uttar Pradesh (6.1 %), Madhya Pradesh (5.7 %), Himachal Pradesh (4.4 %). Apart from these states maize is also grown in Jammu and Kashmir and North-Eastern states. Hence, the maize has emerged as important crop in the non-traditional regions i.e. peninsular India as the state like Andhra Pradesh which ranks 5th in area (0.79 m ha) has recorded the highest production (4.14 m t) and productivity (5.26 t ha-1) in the country although the productivity in some of the districts of Andhra Pradesh is more or equal to the USA.