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I have eight healthy stalks of peaches and cream corn in my small garden, planted in a small block. All of the stalks have tassles. A few silks started to emerge last week. I am trying to hand pollinate to maximize my yield, but I can't seem to find any pollen. The tassle is open and has the anthers hanging down. I have gone out in the morning and tried to gently shake some pollen off the tassle onto a piece of paper for transfer, but only a few of the anthers fall -- I really don't ever really see any pollen on the paper. I suppose it is in there, but not coming out. Is there only a small window of time during the day when the pollen comes out ? Any suggestions?
If your plants are nicely close together just brush the anthers each morning so they touch another plant. The practice of planting close together is for the express purpose of allowing the natural breeze/wind to do the touching for you. How far apart are the plants for each other?
they are about 10 inches apart in a very small block that is about 3X 2 ft.
That should certainly be close enough for natural breeze pollination, but if you want to help, I would just go out and gently knock the anthers / silk areas together.
Here is some info on pollination timing.
"All of the pollen from a single anther may be released in as little as three minutes." -- meaning the reason you are getting no pollen is it may already be spread.
Sometimes gardening is about patience :-)
To piggy back on this question...
what spacing do we find works best for corn here in the low desert?
many of our plants benefit from tighter spacing and my corn is in one 9 foot diameter mandala in 12in rows with 4-6inch spacing, beans and squash sharing space right now... im wondering if its going to be too crowded or if I can compensate for the tight spacing with fertilizer
Michael, I personally like about 6-8" spacing between corn to maximize pollination. With your beans and squash in your spacing you should be okay. Corn is a heavy feeder - that is why bean as companion plants are good, but you need to leave the bean plants to go down after harvest to best fix the nitrogen in the soil. In the mean time a little organic fertilizer would be okay to use.
Catherine, can you explain what you mean about "leaving the bean plants to go down"? I had heard you should leave the roots to maximize the nitrogen available, is it a good idea to turn the leaves and stems under as well? Thanks!!
I think I will get good pollination for most of the stalks -- looks like the tassles are all at about the same maturity -- almost ready to open -- I can see some ears starting to form, but no silks yet. One over achieving stalk matured early with silks and a shedding tassle that started a week ago. This is the one I am trying to help along. Hopefully when the others start shedding these silks will still be viable.
Actually I am happy that I got it to grow. If we can get four ears we can have a nice treat later this month. My other two corn blocks were a bust ... one is planted in a too shady area and not doing so well, and the other germinated/sprouted beautifully but the birds snacked on every last seedling.
Good. One extra thing you can do after the silks are a little more mature is put a drop or two with an eyedropper of vegetable oil at the base of the silks to ward off the corn worm. That has worked for me in the past. I reserve older oils like olive for this and soaps sprays.
Thanks Catherine for the corn worm tip. They are one of the bugs that scare me.
How do you save and replant your corn seeds? Can you just dry the seeds on the cob, then replant?
Grace, in the past I left one ear or two on the plant until they were completely dried and then shucked the kernels off - store as you would any seeds. I generally store my seeds in white paper envelopes so I can make any notes on them - like date harvested etc..
Your corn is just too young still. It will become obvious when the pollen is ready to drop. The breeze will do the job, a gentle shake will help if there is no breeze.