janna_s
Newly Registered
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:05 pm
Location: California (Zone 9)

Corn Silks Disappeared! request help please

Hi everyone,
I am new to this forum and to vegetable gardening (I do organic).

My corn was doing fine, good number of cobs with silks. This morning, I went out to do my morning check and all the silks are gone. They were close to ready to harvest (I think, based on what I read. The silks were a couple weeks old and getting pretty dark).

Is there still hope for my plants or should I just pull them up?

PS: I have another section of corn about 30 feet away, planted a few weeks later than the problem section. They still have their silks.



Thank you in advance for any help :)

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5474
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 1:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

I have never known any bug that eat only the silks. Maybe they dried up and fell off.

The silks will tell you when the corn is ready to pick. When the silks start to turn a little brown you need to keep an eye on it. Do not wait until the silks turn brown and dry completely out the corn will be hard and loose all it flavor. When the silks are about 80% brown and dry they are probably ready to pick. It is better to pick early than to pick late and eat hard corn with no flavor. Boil a large pan of water then after it is boiling pick the corn. Peak off the green and brake off the cob end. Put corn in boiling water as quick as you can. For some reason when corn is picked it starts loosing it flavor and within about 30 minutes it has lost about 70% of its flavor. Don't pick the corn until it is ready to eat and put it in boiling water as quick as you can.
Last edited by Gary350 on Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

janna_s
Newly Registered
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:05 pm
Location: California (Zone 9)

Gary350 wrote:The silks will tell you when the corn is ready to pick. When the silks start to turn a little brown you need to keep an eye on it. Do not wait until the silks turn brown and dry completely out the corn will be hard and loose all it flavor. When the silks are about 80% brown and dry they are probably ready to pick. It is better to pick early than to pick late and eat hard corn with no flavor. Boil a large pan of water then after it is boiling pick the corn. Peak off the green and brake off the cob end. Put corn in boiling water as quick as you can. For some reason when corn is picked it starts loosing it flavor and within about 30 minutes it has lost about 70% of its flavor. Don't pick the corn until it is ready to eat and put it in boiling water as quick as you can.
Thank you for the reply Gary, that will help with my other corn section....any advice on the section that is missing the silks (I think it happened in less than 36 hours)?

User avatar
freedhardwoods
Senior Member
Posts: 253
Joined: Sun May 17, 2009 9:32 pm
Location: Southwest IN

I have no idea why your silks disappeared. Each kernel of corn has a silk attached to it to pollinate it. If the pollen has already fallen off of the tassles before the silks fell out they have done their job. Your corn should be fine.

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28239
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

I would try picking some of the corn and examining them for signs of damage inside.

janna_s
Newly Registered
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:05 pm
Location: California (Zone 9)

applestar wrote:I would try picking some of the corn and examining them for signs of damage inside.
Thank you for the advise Applestar.

I just picked one....no sign of bugs/pests inside
The kernels looked fine, though a little small. However, my plants are a little closer together than they should be and I read this could result in small corn. The corn itself, is not quite as large a a standard ear.

Will my corn continue to grow in size if they have no silks exposed?

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28239
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 7:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

Once the corn are pollinated, and that happens while the silks are green, I don't think they serve any function, though I might be wrong. Japanese beetles/Junebugs eat corn silks. Do you have them in your garden?

For what it's worth (FWIW) - Last year, I cooked young corn with small kernels that I accidentally picked along with the others (I steam them in their jackets for maximum flavor) and the cobs of the immature corn were tender enough to eat... and SWEET! So even though the kernels were small and taste-less, the kids loved them. :wink:

User avatar
rootsy
Green Thumb
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 1:58 pm
Location: Litchfield, Michigan

Look closely for japanese beetles. They cut silk. Real PITA. With any luck the silk received and transported pollen before they got to cutting...

2cents
Green Thumb
Posts: 616
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:04 am
Location: Ohio

Japanese beetle tends to be the problem here in July and August.
Corn late in the season, the beetles are gone and the silks stay in place.

The beetle rarely does much damage to the kernels, maybe the top few. They just love wriggling around in maturing silk.

janna_s
Newly Registered
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:05 pm
Location: California (Zone 9)

Thanks everyone....
I don't see any bugs, but I could just be missing them.

I did some reading and I think in Calif our problem is June bugs; apparently the japanese beetle has not traveled to California yet.

Anyway, I guess I will just wait for the cobs to get a little bigger and try to harvest a few.

Now I have to go figure out why most of my cucumbers are CURLcumbers :shock:

User avatar
rootsy
Green Thumb
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 1:58 pm
Location: Litchfield, Michigan

First Japanese Beetles showed up this weekend. Finished cultivating pumpkins and was finishing up with the hoe and saw a pair doing the wild thing in the indian corn. Put out the beetle traps and had a few dozen in each by Sunday evening...

I was hoping I could get away without applying Permethrin to the sweet corn this year... or at least the early corn. Doesn't look that way. Late corn (Mid - Late August) always needs to be sprayed due to ear worms...

janna_s
Newly Registered
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:05 pm
Location: California (Zone 9)

rootsy wrote: Late corn (Mid - Late August) always needs to be sprayed due to ear worms...
Is there an organic spray for ear worms?

janna_s
Newly Registered
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 3:05 pm
Location: California (Zone 9)

UPDATE

A few days after my initial post here, the cobs started to be eaten every night, 2-3 per night. All that would be left is the cob with the kernels eaten away and a mess of shredded husk on the ground. I have no idea if it is thing that was eating away the silks the previsous nights. The pest got around 20+ ears of an entire small section of corn before we pulled it out (he ate all the corn except for two ears that were ready to harvest that we beat him to...omg it was so sweet and tasty!) So far he has not paid any attention to the other section of corn we have and it is almost ready to harvest.

So, the next night, my Tomatoes (that are just starting to ripen) become the target. 3-5 per night are half to completely eaten from the bottom up...the completely green ones are left alone. I started having visions of myself sitting in a rocking chair in the backyard all night with a shotgun in my lap.

I tired an organic soap, but that did not seem to stop the hungry critter. So, after losing around 30ish very large almost ready to harvest tomatoes, I made a hot sauce of vegetable oil, cayenne pepper and garlic. Before it got dark, I put on some latex gloves and massaged every single tomato with the oil mix...it takes about 20 minutes to get them all (around 40 ish with more on the way). The first night, not one single bite was taken, so I did it for the last 4 nights and still not one bite gone...yay! I notice that the oil is also protecting the tomatoes from whatever bug/pest has been taking smaller (about 1/2"-1") chunks out of the top of the tomatoes. So, I guess my tomatoes get nightly massages :shock:

After trying to listen for and catch a glimpse of our garden thief, we finally saw it last night.... I was in the back room with the door open and heard noises from the tomato bushes. I grabbed the flashlight and my hubby and I chased the sound until it jumped up on the block wall... a RAT! We have roof rats out in southern California, but I had never seen one before.
Apparently rats do not like really spicy food. I have no idea if this oil mix I am using will affect the tomatoes, but at least the rat isn't getting the rest of them.

My first gardening experience is a true learning experience...I have an long list of what "not" to do next season :D

User avatar
rootsy
Green Thumb
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 1:58 pm
Location: Litchfield, Michigan

Re: UPDATE

janna_s wrote:A few days after my initial post here, the cobs started to be eaten every night, 2-3 per night. All that would be left is the cob with the kernels eaten away and a mess of shredded husk on the ground.

Classic Raccoon damage

I have no idea if it is thing that was eating away the silks the previsous nights.

NO, Silk disappearance is either Japanese beetle damage or possibly deer as they will sometimes nibble off the silk. But generally they'll start by pulling the tassel off of the top of the plant. Easy to track in the garden too...

The pest got around 20+ ears of an entire small section of corn before we pulled it out (he ate all the corn except for two ears that were ready to harvest that we beat him to...omg it was so sweet and tasty!) So far he has not paid any attention to the other section of corn we have and it is almost ready to harvest.

Raccoon have a sweet tooth... They will test here and there prior to peak but once those kernels fill and are ready they'll feast.

So, the next night, my Tomatoes (that are just starting to ripen) become the target. 3-5 per night are half to completely eaten from the bottom up...the completely green ones are left alone. I started having visions of myself sitting in a rocking chair in the backyard all night with a shotgun in my lap.

Live trap, a few marshmallows followed up with a 22 in the morning works well. Plan on multiple catches..


I tired an organic soap, but that did not seem to stop the hungry critter. So, after losing around 30ish very large almost ready to harvest tomatoes, I made a hot sauce of vegetable oil, cayenne pepper and garlic. Before it got dark, I put on some latex gloves and massaged every single tomato with the oil mix...it takes about 20 minutes to get them all (around 40 ish with more on the way). The first night, not one single bite was taken, so I did it for the last 4 nights and still not one bite gone...yay! I notice that the oil is also protecting the tomatoes from whatever bug/pest has been taking smaller (about 1/2"-1") chunks out of the top of the tomatoes. So, I guess my tomatoes get nightly massages :shock:

After trying to listen for and catch a glimpse of our garden thief, we finally saw it last night.... I was in the back room with the door open and heard noises from the tomato bushes. I grabbed the flashlight and my hubby and I chased the sound until it jumped up on the block wall... a RAT! We have roof rats out in southern California, but I had never seen one before.
Apparently rats do not like really spicy food. I have no idea if this oil mix I am using will affect the tomatoes, but at least the rat isn't getting the rest of them.

That is a new one... I ahve a few rats in the barn but never have seen them attack produce... better file this one away in my melon

My first gardening experience is a true learning experience...I have an long list of what "not" to do next season :D

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

critters eating corn

I gave up on growing corn because it needs a lot of room and so many critters love it. We have woods rats here and they would just destroy it, but also birds, squirrels, raccoons, possums, deer, all of which were on our property....



Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”