The Q&A Archives: Tassles on Corn

Question: Are you supposed to pull off the tassels at the top of the corn stalk, or is it okay to leave them on?

Answer: If you think of the tassles on corn stalks as a kind of flower that contains the pollen necessary to produce ears of corn, you'll understand the importance of leaving them on - at least until the ears of corn start to fill out. When ears begin to develop they produce silks. Each silk is attached to a potential kernal of corn. When the pollen is released by the tassle, it fall onto the silk, travels through the hollow tube of silk and reaches a kernal on the cob. Once pollinations occurs, the kernals become plump. In time they mature and are ready to be harvested. Since the tassels only release pollen grains once during the season, you can remove them after they've done their job. Most gardeners leave the tassles on the stalks, but in commercial fields where crows are a problem the tassles are removed so the crows won't perch on them. They are also removed in fields where wind and rain can cause 'lodging' (Where corn stalks fall over prior to harvest.) Hope this answers your question.

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