Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sweet Corn Pollination

Corn, Not Quite As High As An Elephant's Eye Tassels Out
Organic Seed Alliance's recent blog post, Sweet Corn Pollination Season in California, is a marvelous picture-loaded tutorial in hand pollination of corn.

Corn is a wind pollinated plant that will easily suffers from 'inbreeding.'  This means, to get seeds that will grow vigorously, individual plants must be pollinated by a plant other than itself.  Furthermore, especially in a small planting, the very light pollen will easily waft away, pollinating very little of the silks at hand.  To insure each silk gets pollinated, and by an adjacent plant and not itself, hand pollination is the preferred method.  Each kernel of corn has its own silk and that silk must be hit with at least one grain of pollen or the kernel does not develop, making it essential for good seed set to hand pollinate.  

I also found this video on breeding corn - while it does extoll the praises of hybrid corn, it is a good video on corn pollination and provides some interesting details on corn breeding.

If you want to save corn seed, this is the best way to get it done.  The tutorial's photos give a reader a good start on the methods and techniques.  I will being doing this procedure later this year as the purple dent corn, Purple Maize, begins to tassel out.  I've got my bags, a friend is sewing a pollination apron for me and I'm studying everything I can find on the hand pollination of corn.

If you like what you read from OSA, please consider sending them a couple of bucks.  They are doing excellent work and, like all non-profits, could use the dough to continue the good work.  Remember that Monsanto and the other mega-corporations that are trying to control our seed supply have billions of dollars.  It's a David vs. Goliath scenario and OSA is one the best 'David's' in the business today.


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