How to Manually Pollinate Corn

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how to self-pollinate corn
how to self pollinate corn
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corn pollination


UPDATE:  Make sure to read the new corn pollination method that has pictures (Updated August 22, 2009)


Like many other American people, I enjoy the fresh taste of sweet corn that is grown directly from our backyards. Sweet corn turns the sugars into starches immediately after being taken off of the crop, so it is important to blanch them and get this procedure to stop to spare all the sugars the corn has to offer. Hence, grow it at home and have the best corn!

Since we moved to a new area of town, there is very little area that gets a decent amount of sunlight daily in the backyard – because of a detached two-car garage. Because of this, I had to make rows of corn between the house and garage and didn’t get the recommended 10′ x 10′ square for corn to cross pollinate itself.

So, I came up with a nice solution to this problem!

For this procedure, you need the following items:

  • Scissors
  • Small paint brush (I use a brush that comes with children’s water color paints)
  • A glass or plastic container (I use one-gallon ice cream buckets and put up to four tassels in each container)
  • If preferred, you may want to get some fine mesh so you can pour the good pollen and separate it from the anthers that fall off of the tassels

Here is the procedure I use:

  • Take your container and scissors to the corn crop and cut the tassel off. Place it upside down in the container (that means the stem you cut should be faced up – this is done so pollen does not stick to the wet part that was just cut off in the container)
  • Let the pollen sit in the container for a few hours.
  • Every now and then, go to the container and shake the tassels. You will see very fine yellow dust begin to collect in your container
  • After you get enough pollen, go to your corn crop and cut the silks to about 1/2 an inch from the top of the corn. This ensures that the silks are all uniform and makes it easier to brush on the pollen
  • Take your container of pollen along with your brush and gently brush on the pollen to the silks. Be liberal with your pollen as you should have enough from one tassel to easily do three-four corn plants, if not more.

Many other sites I came across say to simply tap the tassel into a container underneath. Well, this doesn’t work all the time especially when the winds are high. That is why I found this method to work quite well.

How long is corn pollen good for?

Corn pollen is only good for about 24 hours or so from what I understand. I had a huge amount of corn pollen from this year’s crop that I put it all into a small butter container. After a day, I noticed the pollen started clumping together and it is no longer good at that point. After a few more days, mold starts to grow in the pollen and create one bad smell.

I hope this will find some readers with some valuable information if they wish to manually pollinate their corn crops.