The Q&A Archives: Corn Pollination

Question: How should I plant 12 corn plants to insure pollination?

Answer: Corn is generally planted in blocks, rather than long rows, to facilitate germination. Pollen is carried by wind onto the receptive silks. Even in blocks, the outer rows usually suffer less complete pollination than the plants in the middle of the block. With just 12 plants, you won't be able to rely on the wind to do your pollinating. I suggest you plan to hand-pollinate. 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. Then sprinkle a little of this pollen on the silks of each developing ear. Do this at least twice, two days apart, for best success. If you hand-pollinate, it doesn't matter whether your plot is in a row or in a block. To help the plants support each other in windy weather, I'd plant in a block.

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