Maize somatic embryogenesis (SE) requires the induction of embryogenic callus and establishment of proliferation before plant regeneration. The molecular mechanisms underlying callus embryogenic potential are not well understood. Here we explored the role of small RNAs (sRNAs) and the accumulation of their target transcripts in maize SE at the dedifferentiation step using VS-535 zygotic embryos collected at distinct developmental stages and displaying contrasting in vitro embryogenic potential and morphology. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), trans-acting siRNAs (tasiRNAs), heterochromatic siRNAs (hc-siRNAs) populations and their RNA targets were analyzed by high-throughput sequencing. Abundances of specific miRNAs, tasiRNAs and targets were validated by qRT-PCR. Unique accumulation patterns were found for immature embryo at 15 Days After Pollination (DAP) and for the callus induction from this explant, as compared to 23 DAP and mature embryos. miR156, miR164, miR166, tasiARFs and the 24 nt hc-siRNAs displayed the most strikingly different patterns between explants and during dedifferentiation. According to their role in auxin responses and developmental cues, we conclude that sRNA-target regulation operating within the 15 DAP immature embryo explant provides key molecular hints as to why this stage is relevant for callus induction with successful proliferation and plant regeneration.