In this article, we talk about how to pollinate corn.
Here is the short answer to the question, can one corn plant pollinate itself? Yes! however, statistically, it is challenging for one corn plant to pollinate itself by its own. Corn can have male and female flowers on each plant but it is very rare for corn to pollinate itself this way.
How does Corn Pollination happen?
Corn does have female and male flowers on each plant.
The tassel is the male flower in this plant. Tassel looks a little bit like grass, and it goes to seed those blooms at the top of the stalk. When the tassel gets ripe, pollen is shed from its center down to the lower fronds.
At the leaf junctions, you have the silks, which are the female flowers. Each kernel of corn originates from each strand of silk.
Why do I Need to Hand Pollinate my Corn?
The answer will depend on the size of the land you have corn planted on.
However, if you have an average-sized garden, it will not be enough for your corn to pollinate by itself.
You see, in a vast cornfield, the wind takes care of corn pollination. If you have only a handful of plants, you’ll need to give it some help to pollinate.
When is the best time to pollinate corn?
In order to pollinate your corn efficiently, you need to wait until the tassels are shedding their yellow pollen.
This only happens when they are fully open. Two to three days after, silk emerges from the embryonic ears (the female part of the plant).
You can begin the manual pollination of corn as soon as the silk appears.
In the right conditions, pollination will continue for another week. However, you should take into account that most pollen shedding occurs after the morning dew has dried, so between 9 and 11 am.
Pollination can still be inhibited by cold, cloudy or rainy weather.
How to Pollinate Corn?
Timing is the most important thing about how to pollinate corn.
Once you have that figured out, it will be a breeze to pollinate your whole set of plants. Ideally, corn pollinating should be done in the morning, before 9 am so that there is enough time for the pollination to occur until 11 am.
After knowing this, it’s quite easy: you snap the tassels (male part) of a few stalks and use them like feather dusters over the emerging silks.
This process should take around a week, so you should be careful about how many tassels you use each time.
To prevent an uneven distribution, start at the opposite ends of your rows each morning. And that’s all you mostly need to know about how to pollinate your corn!
Why Doesn’t My Corn Pollinate Itself?
As we said before, if you have enough land planted with corn, your plants will pollinate by themselves with the help of passing wind.
However, if you only have a small corner with sweet corn, don’t expect this to happen.
Why? Because between a small number of plants, pollen shed by the male parts of the plants (tassels) may blow away before enough of its microscopic grains land on the silks of the female parts (ear tips).
This happens just because of the same thing that allows more significant amounts of plants to pollinate themselves: wind.
If there is not enough pollen to spread around, the wind will just throw away the grains onto the soil, and no pollination will occur.
So Can One Corn Plant Pollinate Itself?
Coming back to the main question in this article, it’s statistically near impossible for one corn plant to pollinate itself.
This happens because the wind spreads around the pollen and makes it quite difficult for the pollen to land on the ear tips by chance, especially if you only have one corn plant.
So, it still can happen, but you should never rely on it to get your corn plant to generate enough corn cobs for your plant to be worth the water you spent on it.
It’s quite easy to help your corn plant to pollinate, and you should do so, otherwise, you’ll probably be disappointed.
Is it Hard to Pollinate Corn?
No, it is not. All you need to do is slightly rub the tassels once they’re full of pollen on to the silks of the corn plant, something you can do in five minutes if you only have one corn plant.
Some people say it’s quite a relaxing activity, much more comfortable than other gardening tasks like picking up weeds of mowing the lawn.
You need to pay attention to the timing, though; you should wait until there is enough pollen in the tassels before trying to pollinate your corn plant, and the time when it happens will depend on where you live and on the weather.
Does the weather matter if I’m pollinating corn?
As we have mentioned before, cold, cloudy, or rainy weather may prevent your corn plant from pollinating.
So, even if your plant already has pollen on the tassels, you should wait until the weather is right to pollinate it. If it’s raining, the water will just drag the pollen down, and all your efforts will be in vain.
If it’s too cold, the temperature will not allow for the plant to pollinate. You have around a week to do all this, so by the time the weather gets better, you’ll still have time to pollinate it correctly if you do it every morning (or every evening, if your schedule does not allow for this type of activity in the morning).
If you want to grow corn at home or if you already have one or more corn plants, then you might wanna check out my guide about growing corn and getting a great harvest.
So, unfortunately, statistics show that it’s challenging for one corn plant to pollinate itself without any human help.
In large fields, pollination will happen quite easily through the help of the wind. But for the common gardener who only has space for one corn plant, it is nearly impossible to pollinate your corn plant without a bit of help. However, it’s quite an easy activity; so plant your corn with no fear and when the time comes, pollinate it yourself.
It will be less work than you imagine it to be.