Author Topic: Corn Pollination problems  (Read 558 times)


  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 150
  • Karma: 15
  • Utah, USA, 4000 ft
    • View Profile
    • Email
Corn Pollination problems
« on: 2019-08-20, 09:56:50 AM »
I've been saving corn seed for probably fifteen or twenty years. In the last five years I've noticed a distinct lack of pollination. Many of the plants pollinate only a little, some pollinate sporadically, but most I think have some kind of structural problem. The top half of the cob (the horizontal half facing up) pollinates normally, the tip of the cob not at all, and the bottom of the cob (toward the ground) not at all or sporadically. I'm guessing that the pollen doesn't reach the bottom or the center of the silk bundle, but I'm not sure why this would happen or how to resolve it. Two cobs last week were fully formed on the top, mostly bare on the bottom, and nothing at all on the tips. I should probably look at the silks next year and see if the center of the silks are sunken or unformed. But in the meantime, any ideas or suggestions?

The plants are also very small, silking at about 3-4 feet, when I used to have 9 foot stalks and foot long, fully pollinated cobs. I thought that might be pollen drift, as one of my neighbors planted some dwarf corn years ago. The timing corresponds, although I can't be certain. I'm not so concerned about the height as about the pollination problems.

Woody Gardener

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 57
  • Karma: 7
  • NW Arkansas, USA
    • View Profile
    • Email
  • Hardiness Zone: USDA 6b
Re: Corn Pollination problems
« Reply #1 on: 2019-08-22, 07:36:25 AM »
I had a similar corn problem as well as some other surprising failures this year. I attributed it to the erratic weather this spring. Today I read this article.

Atmospheric vapor deficit causing worldwide loss of vegetation

"VPD is important because of its impact on plants. When VPD rises a certain amount, plants react by closing their stomata, the pores in their leaves, to prevent water loss. But this also shuts down the release of oxygen and the absorption of carbon dioxide—partially shutting down photosynthesis and slowing growth. In this new effort, the researchers wondered if there might be a connection between observed losses of vegetation worldwide and changes to VPD in some parts of the world."
I'm not interested in preserving heirlooms.
The best seed bank is the living seed bank which is growing every year in people's gardens.
Joseph Lofthouse