The Q&A Archives: Pollination of corn

Question: What part does the tassle play in the pollination of corn ? Thank you for being here to answer questions from people like me . ( A retired commercial pilot with no ag. education ) This is my 1st summer in retirement and I am in love with growing fresh melons and veggies . I always wanted to grow things but I had to make a living flying airplanes which left no room to properly care for planting and growing a garden . I thank you for your time to answer my question .

Answer: Congratulations on your retirement! And, for chosing gardening as a hobby. The tassles on the tops of corn stalks are actually the 'flowers' where pollen grains develop. When the tassles are ripe they spill their pollen onto the silks on the ears of corn, waiting below. Each of the silks is connected to a kernal on the cob. The kernals will develop if the silk attached to it receives a grain of pollen from the tassel. That's why some ears of corn have rows and rows of uniform kernals (complete pollination) and some ears of corn have missing kernals (incomplete pollination). Sometimes the tassles are cut from the corn stalks after they have shed their pollen, if crows are a problem in the field, or if rainfall or high winds occur often enough to push the corn stalks over. Hope this answers your question.

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