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INTRODUCTION

Baby corn is the ear of maize (Zea mays L.) plant harvested young, especially
when the silk have either not been emerged or just emerged, and no fertilization has taken
place, depending on the cultivar grown. It is generally harvested early, while the ears are
very small and immature. The dehusked young ears of baby corn are eaten raw as well as
cooked, whose delicate sweet flavor and crispiness are much in demand and is most
common in Asian cuisine. In Thai cookbooks, it is also referred to as candle corn. Baby
corn cultivation, being a recent development, has proved an enormously successful
venture in countries like Thailand, China, Taiwan, Zambia, Zimbabwe etc. Baby corn is
also gaining popularity in USA, Europe and Southeast Asia.

Nutritive value of baby corn is very high as it contains 89.1 per cent moisture,
0.20 g fat, 8.20 mg carbohydrates, 1.90 g protein, 28.0 mg calcium, 86.0 mg phosphorus,
0.10 mg iron, 0.05 mg thiamine, 0.08 mg riboflavin, 11.0 mg ascorbic acid, 0.03 mg
niacin etc, per 100g of edible portion (Das et al., 2005). It is also rich in crude fibres and
fibrous proteins which help to prevent intestinal cancer. Moreover, baby corn is
considered cholesterol free, so is considered good for human heart. Thus, the demand for
baby corn is rapidly increasing in urban areas of India too, because of its high nutritive
value.

Now attention is being paid to explore its potential to earn foreign exchange,
besides higher economic returns to the farmers. Since, only immature cob is harvested as
the economic produce, so the crop meant for baby corn can be harvested within 50-55
days. Thus, in the areas adjoining cities or peri-urban areas multiple crops of baby corn
can be raised which would fetch greater income to the farmers. Moreover, after harvest,
the still young plants may be used as fodder for cattle, since it supplies green, soft,
succulent, nutritious and palatable fodder with higher digestibility for farm animals.
Hence, it will help in fetching extra income to the farmers. Besides, helping in crop
diversification and promotion of dairy industry, baby corn also helps in employment
generation and value addition as it is used to manufacture a number of value-added
products and preparation of several recipes like soup, pickles, cutlets, deep fried baby
corn with meat, rice and other vegetables.

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Since its cultivation is also picking up in Punjab, so there is no such statistical
data available for its total production and area sown. Whereas, the area under maize
cultivation in Punjab was 130 thousand hectares with a production of 507 thousand
tonnes and average yield of 39.0 quintals per hectare in 2015-16 (Anon., 2015).
Moreover, area of baby corn in Punjab can further be increased due to the presence of
conducive environment for its successful production. Besides, Punjab area under baby
corn is also increasing in the adjoining state of Haryana. Aterna village of Sonepat district
is considerd as a model village for baby corn production in India. Whereas, corporate
sector is also picking its cultivation in various areas of the Punjab and Haryana and at
present many progressive farmers are growing baby corn on contract basis with such
private companies.

Baby corn is a nutrient exhaustive crop and due to high planting density, the
integrated nutrient management (INM) practice is important to retain productivity of the
soil along with heavy returns. It has been found that no single source of nutrients is
capable of supplying the necessary elements in adequate and balanced proportion and the
use of inorganic fertilizers being a costly affair also leads to deterioration of soil health
and quality of the produce. However, the use of organic sources alone, do not result in
spectacular increase in crop yields, due to their low nutrient status and are also not easily
available for a large scale use. Therefore, in the present context, a judicious combination
of organic manures and chemical fertilizers may help to maintain soil and crop
productivity. It also helps in restoring fertility of soil and improves nutrient use efficiency
which is essential for improved and sustainable crop production.

Use of organic manures also makes available the essential micronutrients.


Moreover, the organic manures enhance activities of soil microorganisms, improves
water holding capacity and soil structure, which in turn makes soil less susceptible to
leaching and erosion. Moreover, it enhances the availability of nutrients for a longer
period of time to the plants. On the contrary, excessive use of inorganic fertilizers can
reduce its quality for export purposes. So, an integrated nutrient management program
helps in producing a quality product which can fetch good price in the national as well as
international markets. Hence, the integrated nutrient management maximizes the nutrient
use efficiency and avoid over exploitation of natural resources. It also helps farmers in
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saving money to be spend on costly inorganic fertilizers. It holds great promise in
meeting the growing nutrient demands of intensive agriculture and maintaining the crop
productivity at a fairly high level.

In order to check the effect of integrated nutrient management on the growth,


yield and quality parameters of baby corn, while maintaining nutrient status of soil, the
present study entitled Effect of integrated nutrient management on growth, yield and
quality of baby corn (Zea mays L.) has been conducted keeping in view the following
objective:

1. To study the effect of varied doses of N and farm yard manure on growth,
yield and yield contributing.

2. To study the effect of varied doses of N and farm yard manure on quality of
baby corn.