Sweetcorn – Tassels, Silks and Pollination

Our sweetcorn is doing pretty well, the male tassels (flowers) at the top are standing proud and the female silks are starting to show. Now we are coming to the crucial time that could render our first attempt at growing sweetcorn (from seed I might add) either a tasty success or a total failure.

Wind pollination along with planting in a block rather than a row will help to pollinate the silks, but, I shall also aid nature a little and try to hand pollinate as well. Anyone else done this before? Any tips? So far I have the following advice:

Tap the tassel flower when fully open to distribute the pollen to the silks below, or, run your hand up and down the tassel and then do the same to the silks to release the pollen.

 

As you can see we have at least 3 silks per plant, whether or not all become pollinated is any ones guess. I have a few pollinating ideas up my sleeve (oh dear that sounds a bit odd) so I shall try different methods on different plants and see how we go.

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14 comments

  1. Lovely. My Dad grew sweetcorn a few times, probably with most success in Canada, though. I don’t think we’ve got the room in the veg garden and now we have chickens, which need a lot of grass, I’m not sure we can make any more beds. Hope you have some lovely cobs in due course.

  2. Thanks Karin, certainly hope so!
    Hi Kay, if all goes well I might just let them have some!

  3. Hi Karen,

    Your blog is a joy to read. The images are beautiful and I’m fascinated by all that you’re growing.
    One day I see myself living the country life, but while I’m still living in London, I will persist with my container garden…. This is my first attempt and I’m enjoying it so much. I also have some sweetcorn in buckets but they’re not as far along as yours! I will put some images of the garden on my blog soon but can’t talk about them as much as I’d like to on there, as it’s primarily a fashion blog!

    Anyway, enough rambling!
    I look forward to your next post.

    Miggy.x

  4. Hi Miggy
    Thank you so much for your lovely comments!
    I am originally from London and I know how hard it is to come by some green space, especially to grow vegetables. Allotments have such a long waiting list too. I started off growing my veg in containers and did quite well, carrots were a doddle at least!

    Good luck with your sweet corn ;)

    Karen

  5. Last year was my first attempt at veggies and I was too scared to try carrots after reading about carrot fly. I have tried this year, both in the ground and in containers, not a single one has come up. Still, not got any carrot fly! I must be really useless if you say growing carrots is a doddle.
    Kay x

  6. Oh dear Kay! I have mine in the ground this year but I found using containers easier for thinning and less forked carrots! There are carrot fly resistant varieties, I am growing Autumn King this year and doing OK so far. Touch wood!

  7. HI!! First time to check your site and so glad to hear about you ‘helping’ out the corn!! I had planned on doing this same thing!! I have very little space(living here in Osaka,Japan!) and I have a mere 10 corn plants growing!! I hope I get great big cobs but who knows,,, it’s fun trying!!
    Any good advice for keeping pesky slugs away?? I’ve tried, beer in a dish, salt piles, organic pellets,,the lads still seem to have a feast when I am away!! If any good ideasss I’d love to hear!! Thanks!!!
    kevin

  8. Hi Kevin

    Having 13 hens roaming around the slug population is kept under control without any help from me! Good luck with your corn :)

  9. Hi

    I am growing veg for the first time this year in my garden and I also have sweetcorn which I tried to hand pollinate this morning before work but not really sure what im doing so any advice would be a great help :)

  10. […] Sweetcorn is wind-pollinated so it’s best planted out in blocks rather than single rows. I usually plant a few blocks using 15 or 18 plants in short rows of 3, this way the plants are closer together which helps to ensure successful pollination of the silks. With this in mind I have sown quite a few seeds to allow for failures. It’s possible to grow a few plants in a large pot successfully but expect a low yield. Despite this, even if you only manage to pick one or two cobs it’s totally worth the effort for the fresh and sweet taste. […]

  11. I have my first garden EVER. I do not live in the right climate to grow corn but it seems to be doing well. I have been constantly going out looking for the silks and from your pictures I think I have found them. Now, time to manually pollinate. Thanks for the info!!

  12. I once used this method: got a bowl and went along, tapping pollen from the tassels into it, then used a large watercolor paintbrush to “paint” the pollen onto the silks. I got a good harvest that summer, but am not sure my pollination help had anything to do with it.

  13. […] Sweetcorn is wind-pollinated so it’s best planted out in blocks rather than single rows. I usually plant a few blocks using 15 or 18 plants in short rows of 3, this way the plants are closer together which helps to ensure successful pollination of the silks. With this in mind I have sown quite a few seeds to allow for failures. It’s possible to grow a few plants in a large pot successfully but expect a low yield. Despite this, even if you only manage to pick one or two cobs, it’s totally worth the effort for the fresh and sweet taste. […]

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