Minnesota Farmer


Tassel and Silk
July 26, 2011, 3:59 pm
Filed under: Corn, Farm, rain, time, weather, wind | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Zea Maize, corn, is an interesting plant. It has a split flower on one plant. Most plants have the flower parts in close to each other so that insects and animals can assist them in pollination, but corn is wind pollinated so separating the male and female parts of the flower works if you want to be sure to get pollen transferred between plants.Tassel

The tassel, the male part of the flower, is on the top of the plant where the wind can carry pollen grains off.  The pollen can travel a long ways if the conditions are right.

The silk, the female part of the flower, comes out of a node about half way down the plant.  Right after it emerges the silk is usually green, as time goes on it turns brown, almost black.  If the conditions are right, it’s not too hot, or too cold, the pollen will fall onto the silk and produce a kernel of corn.  The kernel of corn will develop on the cob.  If there has been enough pollen transfer you will have a full beautiful ear of corn.

Until recently the challenge here was that the weather had been too wet.  Much of our corn had not matured to the point that the silk and tassel had developed.  Some corn fields still contain areas that have not matured enough to produce seed.

You can see an area in this picture that was so wet the corn plants died, with areas of varied growth around it.  The further you get from the wet spot the better the corn looks.

For us the rain stopped two weeks ago.  Since then we have had hot and humid conditions.  The corn seemed to shoot up, growing taller each day.  Then just as the tassels emerged, and we were wondering if the weather would ever break, the weather got perfect for pollen transfer.  The problem is that not all of the corn is ready for this perfect weather.

Crop scientists are telling us that if the corn has not pollenated by now, it will be too late.  Weather could still work to produce a few kernels, but there just is not enough time for the grain to mature.  It is now a waiting game.  Will the corn have enough time to mature.  Will there be enough water in the ground to produce a good crop.  Will it rain on time.

Areas of some fields are already showing that they need water.  The heat took a lot out of the plants, and if the ground did not hold water the plant is having trouble finding it.  Most of the fields are doing well.  In October we will find out what kind of a crop this years weather has given us.

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