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rainbowgardener
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why is this happening?

I have now had two successive plantings of Silver Queen corn. The first one, most of the ears were quite incompletely pollinated, with half a cobs worth of kernels or less. The second planting in succession (in a different bed) was even worse. The plants were tall and spindly, with not enough leaves and long internode spaces. Of a dozen plants, there were two good ears. Every plant had a cob and many had two, but most of the cobs had no corn kernels whatsoever.

I thought the presence or absence of the kernels depended on pollination and that they were wind pollinated. All the plants had tassels and silks. Why didn't they develop?

I now have a third planting coming along, back in the bed where the first planting was. Is there anything I can do to help ensure that these develop right?

Thanks!
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applestar
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Re: why is this happening?

My observation of corn wind pollinating on their own is that in a small block, it is really hit or miss.

- The tassels don’t start shedding pollen until the sunlight hits them (or maybe when it’s hotter if cloudy), but if it’s windy, the cloud of lovely pollen just blow away, and if the wind is from the wrong direction, even less likely that they will land on any of the silks.

- when humid or damp, the pollen clump and when I’m trying to hand pollinate, they stick to everything — completely different from when they are dry and roll off corn leaves and fly freely. I may manage to get the pollen to shed on to something — paper, iPhone, hosts leaf, but they won’t come off.

- VERY often, overlapping corn leaves cover/block silks. If the pollen grains are sliding off the dry leaves and floating in the air, that might not be a problem, but if they are stuck, they might not dry and make their way to the silks during the short window while they are viable. (the silks getting blocked is the primary reason I stopped 3-sisters or other companion planting with corn unless bush beans or something very short).

...if I’m not actively collecting pollen and pouring onto/into silks, what I do is push the stalks over to the center of the block, or according to wind direction and give a little shake. You’ll see what I mean about them not shedding pollen until conditions are right — I’ve tried first thing in the morning while I was in the vicinity, and got nothing, then later on made special trip to the corn patch and they were almost pouring out of every tassel.
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imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: why is this happening?

I planted a different corn this year, but because of the weather that was cooler than normal and with more overcast days, the corn took longer for the silks to be pollinated. Normally, corn can be ready to harvest 10 days after the silks appear. This year it took three weeks before the silks started to dry out. My other field of corn ended up coming in at the same time even though it was planted later. The pollination was o.k. but the tops of the ears were not filled as much as they could be. I did have a hole in my planting because carrots, beets and komatsuna forced me to plant the corn around them. I had about 40 plants in all. I only got 10% of the second ears filled. Normally if I had 47 corn planted in a block 8 inches apart, I would get 67 ears.
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!potatoes!
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Location: wnc - zones 6/7 line

Re: why is this happening?

if it's been as endlessly wet there as it's been here, I'm not surprised by incomplete pollination.

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Gary350
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Re: why is this happening?

!potatoes! wrote:if it's been as endlessly wet there as it's been here, I'm not surprised by incomplete pollination.
I don't think wet is a problem. My corn made tassels then few days later ears made silks and endless rain started. I was worried rain would wash pollen away but no that did not happen. I have 400 corn plants best crops ever. Corn is self pollinating it does terrible in a small crop wind blows all the pollen away. If you could make wind be dead calm for a week 12 plants will probably pollinate. Low Arizona humidity causes silks to be too dry for pollen to stick not a problem in TN. You still have time to try again.

.

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rainbowgardener
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Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: why is this happening?

Oh yeah, the third planting is well underway, plants a foot tall and sturdy. I'm just trying to figure out how to help them do better.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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