How to Tell if Corn is Pollinated [3 Signs to Watch For]

There are several ways to tell if corn is pollinated. These include monitoring the corn silk, watching for the formation of pollen tubes, or inspecting the plant to see if ovules have formed. If you are growing corn, it’s important to know that the pollination and fertilization processes are vital stages of the development of your plants. You want your potential harvest to be as big as possible, and the amount of corn you will get is usually established early in the season. Successful pollination plays a major role in determining corn harvest size.

How to tell if corn is pollinated

3 Ways to Know if Corn is Pollinated

Although pollination is important to the growth of corn, you may not know how to determine if pollination was successful. The three signs detailed below are the best ways to tell if your corn has been pollinated.

Watch for the Formation of Ovules

Observing your plants for the appearance of ovules is an easy way to discover whether or not your corn has been pollinated. Ovules look like watery blisters, and are sometimes referred to as the “blister stage” of the development process. You can search for corn ovules by checking the ears of corn in your garden. On a successfully fertilized ear of corn, the ovules will grow in paired rows.

  • Watch for the formation of ovules to see if your corn has pollinated.
  • Ovules will appear approximately 10 days after pollination.
  • Ovules appear as watery blisters growing in paired rows on an ear of corn.

The ovules cannot be seen very well the day they are pollinated, but about 10 days after, if the pollination is successful, the “blisters” will appear. So, you can begin checking your corn soon after the flowering stage to spot signs of successful pollination as early as possible.

Observe Your Plants for Pollen Tubes

Determining if pollen tubes are present is another way to discover if corn pollination has occurred. A “silk” is attached to each of the ear’s potential kernels. When pollen grains attach to a silk, they create a pollen tube that grows the length of the silk during the germination process. Once the strand of corn silk has detached from the individual ovules, that means the pollen tube has successfully pollinated the kernel.

  • The formation of pollen tubes is essential for determining if pollination has begun.
  • Pollen tubes grow the entire length of the silk, then the silk detaches from the ovules.
  • It takes 10–28 hours for a pollen tube to grow after pollination.
  • Check young corn for signs that the strands of silk have begun to detach from the ovules.

The pollination process and the growth of the germ tube takes approximately 10-28 hours. If you inspect young corn and see that individual strands of silk have begun to separate from the ovules, then you can be sure the ear of corn has been pollinated.

Shake Your Corn Husks to See if Silks Fall

Identifying pollinated corn gets easier as the corn grows. To perform a final pollination check, carefully unwrap the husk leaves from an ear of corn in your corn patch and gently shake it. If silks fall easily from the husk, pollination has likely been successful. This is because after the pollination process occurs, silks turn brown and become dry.

  • Carefully unwrap husks to see if silks easily fall from the leaves.
  • The more silks that drop, the more fertilized ovules you have.
  • Each fertilized ovule grows into an edible kernel of corn.

The number of silks dropping from the ear is important: the more silks that drop, the more ovules have been fertilized and these will eventually turn into kernels. Therefore, sampling several ears at random throughout your corn patch is a good way to determine if your corn is pollinated, as well as to estimate what type of yield you can expect.

How Long Does it Take for Corn to Become Pollinated?

It takes corn anywhere from about 16–23 days to fully pollinate. Pollen shed typically takes 5–8 days. Silks will then emerge from the base of the ear. This process takes approximately 10 days under normal growing conditions. However, some silks may take up to 14 days to mature.

  • It takes corn anywhere from 16–23 days for corn to pollinate.
  • The fertilization part takes only 10–28 hours.
  • It may take as long as 14 days for corn silks to mature and begin to detach, signaling that your corn is pollinated.

The pollen grain germinates immediately when it lands on the silk. The total time for the ovule’s fertilization is approximately 10-28 hours. Since it takes time for the ovule to grow, as well as for silks to detach and eventually turn brown, it’s recommended that you periodically check your corn for additional signs of successful pollination.

What Happens if Corn is Not Pollinated?

A corn plant that is not successfully pollinated will produce no edible kernels. This is because the ovules will never grow, and therefore cannot mature into corn kernels. In some cases, pollination may start to take place but fail along the way. So, even if you see ovules on your ears of corn early in the process, it’s a good idea to check for additional signs throughout the growing process, to be sure you’ll get a good corn harvest.

  • If corn fails to pollinate, there will be no edible kernels.
  • If pollination fails, nothing happens after the “blister stage.”
  • Check your corn patch every few days after you first see corn ovules—additional signs will confirm the corn is pollinated.

If corn pollination fails, you will notice the “blister stage” has been reached, but nothing occurs afterward. The watery-looking blisters will never change and become growing kernels. Additionally, if corn is not pollinated, the unfertilized ovules will still have silks attached to them. The silks will look fresh and healthy, and will not turn brown and fall off the way they do if the pollination is successful.

How Do You Know if Your Corn Has Been Pollinated?

Pollination of corn is vital to the development of a good crop. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to tell if your corn has been pollinated.

  • The formation of ovules is an early sign that your corn has been pollinated.
  • Successful pollination will later be confirmed by corn silk strands that detach themselves from the kernels.
  • To confirm pollination, gently open corn husks and shake—if silks fall out, your corn is pollinated.
  • The more silks that fall, the more pollination has occurred.
  • Pollination takes anywhere from 16 to 23 days.
  • If corn does not pollinate, no edible kernels will emerge.

You can grow an abundance of sweet corn in a small area by cultivating healthy plants. Make sure to provide your corn with adequate sunlight for the best yield. Also, it’s essential to eliminate drought stress early in the flowering process, since a lack of water can reduce the chances of successful pollination.

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