Was Pollination Successful?
July 05, 2012 by Jack Hardwick, CCA
Pollination is just beginning in some areas and a few weeks out in other areas. With the forecasted heat and continued dry weather, growers pray that pollination shed and silk emergence timings coincide with minimal disturbance. But once the pollen starts flying the real question for growers is has pollination been successful? Shortly after fertilization, growers can walk through their corn fields and determine the success rate of pollination. The following procedure can be used to determine the success rate of pollination.
Step 1: Collect Ears. Select several ears from different areas throughout the corn field.
Step 2: Cut thru the husks with a knife. Carefully cut down thru the corn husks, start at the top of the ear and cut down. Be careful not to cut the silks or the cob in the process.
Step 3: Open husks at the cut. Once the husk has been cut, slowly open the husks around the area cut. Pay attention not to disturb the silks.
Step 4: Pull the husk off the ear. Start with the outside layer of husks and slowly remove each layer. Once again be careful not to disturb any of the silks.
Step 5: Gently shake the ear. Once the husks are removed, gently shake the ear to allow loose silks to fall off the ear.
Step 6: Examine the ear for remaining silks. Once a kernel is fertilized the silk detaches from that kernel. Any silk that remains attached to the kernel has not been fertilized and depending on the amount of time left for pollination the kernel may or may not be pollinated.
Once complete, this method will provide a general idea of how the representative ears inspected have pollinated. After pollination, there are many other factors (mainly weather) that will determine the harvestable yield. Ears still have the option to abort kernels due to excessive heat, nutrient deficiency, disease, etc. to keep the ear intact.