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corn ears not filling out

 
pollinator
Posts: 1454
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
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My ears of corn are not filling out.  Some big full kernels and then some not developed.

Background:  This is Non-GMO corn, planted w/ three sisters method, has had no chemicals applied.  Did put a few drops of vegetable oil in the silks a couple of weeks back.  There are no worms - I did see some on the outside right before I put the vegetable oil on the silks but there is no damage to the ears.

This is the sweetest corn I have EVER tasted.  My husband and I were eating it out in the yard without cooking it.

Can anyone tell me why so many kernels did not develop?
 
master pollinator
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Sounds like poor pollination to me - the corn plants might have been too far apart.  Planting the corn in clumps might help next time. 
 
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Each kernel is a seed.  If a silk is not pollinated, it will not produce a seed.
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
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Another one of those live and learn experiences.  Someone was trying to help me (seems to happen a lot) and told me I should de-tassle the corn. 

I checked a good 'what to plant now' calendar that I have saved and found that I right at the end of the last planting window for planting corn this year;  I ran out this evening and planted corn in every bare spot I could find.  This time there will be no de-tassling!!!
 
Tyler Ludens
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South Carolina wrote:
Someone was trying to help me (seems to happen a lot) and told me I should de-tassle the corn.



What the heck??? 
 
Mother Tree
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Location: Portugal
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South Carolina wrote:
Another one of those live and learn experiences.  Someone was trying to help me (seems to happen a lot) and told me I should de-tassle the corn. 



Just gotta love it when people try to help! 
 
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Burra - did you have bad weather at pollinating time?
Rain, Wind?
 
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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plant in blocks as corn is wind pollinated and needs to be really close to get pollinated, you can also help by shaking the tassels if there isn't any wind
 
Burra Maluca
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Jen it wasn't me - but whatever the weather, cutting the tassels  off (which have the pollen) is going to seriously reduce the chances of pollination!

I spent an hour this morning at a neighbours's farm pulling out his corn.  He'd made a completely different mistake.  He's been growing corn for feeding his chickens for years, but this year he bought his seed from the new farm shop instead of his usual supplier, and then realised he'd bought a type meant to be cut and fed as silage to cattle, so he asked us if we'd like it for feeding to the donkey. 

I'm not one to turn down free donkey fodder - the less hay she eats, the more mulching material we have!   

Interestingly, his corn patch was about 8 metres by 100 metres (and no, I haven't finished pulling it...) and was interplanted with pumpkins.  It seems Portugal has it's own version of the three sisters.
 
Jack Shawburn
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Burra, nice windfall there. Some mornings when the silks and tassles are just formed
I go out early and tap the stalks. The pollen rains down and the slightest breeze
will carry it away.
The pollen will come out when you shake the plant then diminish.
If you wait 30mins or so and come back, then there will be more pollen again.
You can do this about 3 times in one morning, but not to bother on a windy day.
Much of the time the squashes are flowering at the same time too and I pollinate some by hand then.
 
John Polk
steward
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Many tomato growers, especially greenhouse growers where wind is not present, will use an electric toothbrush as a vibrator near the flowers to stimulate pollen release.
 
Posts: 71
Location: East-Central Illinois
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Is vegetable oil on the silks a 'worm' preventative?  We had lots of bees this summer (YAY) so pollination in the garden was not a problem.
 
                                                
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Yes JRT, it keeps them from working down inside from the opening at the top.

anyone heard of pollination problems from planting corn too dense?  I planted mine at about 6 inches, 10 inches between rows, staggered by 2 weeks per four rows.  When my first batch came in, about half only had a few kernels, and all of it was missing about 1/3-1/2.  the only thing I could figure is that they are so close together that the upper leaves are blocking a lot of pollen from the lower ones.  the second batch seems a little better, and I think I caught on early enough to get in and shake the next 2 batches enough to help.

The corn also grew about 2ft shorter than last year, so obviously not enough nitrogen.  I knew I shouldn't plant it in the same place as last year! although everything except my volunteer straightneck from last year seems a bit piddly because the wet spring kept my seedlings inside 2 weeks longer than they should have been, with no grow light.  That dang squash plant though, has gotten to be about 12 ft by about 7 ft! 2 of those could feed a small county!
 
John Polk
steward
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Since corn is wind pollinated, perhaps the close spacing didn't allow enough wind through to do its job.  And yes, corn does love its nitrogen.
 
                
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Location: Texas
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High humidity or rain can greatly reduce pollination too.  I like the idea of collecting several head and  putting them into a paper bag, give it a shake, tear out a corner, and giving gently puffs of air onto each corn silk; then a squirt of oil the next day.  It makes for fully pollinated corn when you have ill timed rains all the time like I do here. 
 
Posts: 180
Location: Missouri/Iowa border
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Whoever gave you that advice gave it very incompletely. There is a process of hand pollination to negate genetic drift and the first step is de-tassling. However, clearly they didn't know enough or didn't tell you enough to finish the process.
 
Posts: 225
Location: Adelaide, South Australia (Mediterranean climate)
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One tip for corn pollination which I have read is to plant your corn in 3 or 4 batches.  Say you are planting 4 rows of corn, plant the first one on Monday, the second on Wednesday, third on Friday and the last on Sunday.  This gives you a longer period of pollination and increases the chance of the male and female parts of the plant being good to go at the same time.

That said, it is kinda inconvenient and annoying if you forget to complete the planting on time...
 
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