The Q&A Archives: Hand Pollinating Corn

Question: I am growing Early Sunglow. The plants are about 3' high and starting to show pollen. Problem is there is not one ear of corn (12 plants) on any of the plants to receive the pollen. Any clue why and should I be collecting pollen in a bag for when the ears do appear?

Answer: Normally, corn pollen is carried by wind onto the receptive silks, hence the tradition of planting corn in blocks rather than one single long row. Even in blocks, the outer rows usually suffer less complete pollination than the plants in the middle of the block, and the fewer the number of plants the more you may wish to rely on hand-pollinating. To do this, wait until the tassels at the top of the plant look loose and open, and the pollen is just starting to shed. Gently shake pollen from the tassels into a paper bag. (A paper bag is easy to handle.)Then sprinkle a little of this pollen on the silks of each developing ear. (You won't see ears of corn -- the corn-to-be is actually a female flower stalk hidden by a sheath of leaves. The only visible flower part is the silk, one strand per future kernel.) Do this at least twice, two days apart, for best success. Use fresh pollen each time. Good lcuk with your crop!

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