Author Topic: General stuff about corn  (Read 772 times)


  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 781
  • Karma: 50
  • Narrow Ridge above the Ohio River zone 6a
    • View Profile
General stuff about corn
« on: 2019-05-06, 07:37:16 AM »
Just some ramblings about stuff I'v observed and stuff I still don't know.
First is it the question of when is a kernel mature enough to be used as seed? I'v seen this question before and I think it was Joseph who answered that it is pretty mature at milk stage or shortly after. I have a lot of flour corn seed from last year that in my estimation is not mature, it was certainly well past milk stage but when dried down it was smaller and kind of puckered compared to the seed I planted. I ran a germ test and it all sprouted just fine and fast, some in only 24 hours. Surprisingly I also didn't see a lot of difference in the size of roots and leaves compared to the larger more mature kernels.  Still, I guess I'm just stubborn, but I think a fuller more mature kernel will produce a  stronger seedling especially when actually planted rather than germinated on moist paper towels on  a heat pad.

I also noticed in this small test that flour corn sprouts faster than flint corn.  I wonder if it takes longer for flint to saturate and soften than flour? And, the flint although it sprouted a couple days later rapidly caught up in size of roots an leaves. This however I suspect might be due to the fact that the flint kernels were completely mature. Not a good comparison there because I didn't waste any of my more mature flour seeds in the test but still the flour sprouting faster might hold true.

Another thing is I'm wondering is what others do when they want to cross varieties and the comparative maturity isn't known? It's no problem I suppose If ya got plenty of space and plenty of seed, just do multiple successive planting till they match up but I don't have an overabundance of either.  I'm thinking of doing a very small planting of three kinds just to see who flowers when and then plant my primary patch accordingly. Last year as an experiment I super dried some rice in the oven and put it in a jar with some corn pollen and froze it. I was able to keep the pollen for months and it stayed in a powdery condition, but was it still good? Does anyone have experience freezing pollen and getting successful results with it?
« Last Edit: 2019-05-06, 07:39:23 AM by reed »


  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 31
  • Karma: 6
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: General stuff about corn
« Reply #1 on: 2019-05-06, 10:28:34 AM »
Iíll try to answer the crossing question. What I have done and continue to do if I donít know the days to maturity is to plant one of the two varieties I want to cross, every week or two I plant maybe 5-10 more seeds in a row next to the other variety to be crossed. Eventually it all lines up and you can make the cross. Maybe Iím horribly wrong here, but Iíve always assumed it wasnít absolutely necessary to have large numbers when making an initial F1 cross. Sometimes you can just get lucky as well and have a weird later tassel or silk on an otherwise earlier variety.
Very deep mildly acidic clay loam with abundant sandstone and quartzite gravel and stones. Very high water table, Border of Koppen climate Oceanic and Humid Subtropical, USDA Zone 6b, very windy frost pocket valley at the foot of a lonely mountain, historic dairy and orchard county.

Olaf Nurlif

  • Full Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 20
  • Karma: 4
    • View Profile
Re: General stuff about corn
« Reply #2 on: 2019-05-10, 02:16:01 PM »
A note on storing corn pollen:
If I remember correctly maize pollen has about 60% moisture after shedding.
You can dry it to 20-30% without risking too much loss of pollen viability and it will greatly increase longevity of the pollen.

I used silica gel and a fine scale to estimate the water loss, I did not measure the pollen moisture content directly.
So I just put the pollen on a scale every 30 mins or so and after a few hours I sealed it in plastic containers and cooled/froze it.

After a month I got fully pollinated ears when using the pollen stored in the refrigerator (ca 5įC).
According to literature, you can store dried and frozen corn pollen for >1 year and pollinate successfully.

You probably have to care to minimize UV exposure of the pollen - I think corn pollen is rather UV sensitive.

But for short term storage drying and cooling pollen should enable you to make any crosses you desire among your varieties.

I'm sorry, I'm a bit tired and have too much to do, I researched that topic quite intensely and somewhere I have the papers and exact figures in a word document but I won't find it now anyway... you should however find much of the information when searching for maize pollen longevity or similar strings.