It’s that time to “pregnancy check” corn or see how well pollination went. I was really concerned how things would shake out during all the heat last week when we were pollinating. Pollen from the tassel (male) falls to contact the silk on the ear (female) and then travels down the tube to fertilize the kernel. Extremely hot and dry weather can affect this process.  We currently are at “brown silk” stage meaning that we should be all pollinated and well on our way to kernel fill, with a high need of water and sunlight. However, I am seeing several “green silks” in the field, which tells me that some silks may have had delayed emergence due to the heat. To see exactly what I am doing here, view the video in the post below.

I pulled the ear and cut the bottom of the shank off to get to the bottom of the ear. Then I split the shucks carefully and allowed them to fall away. I gently shook the ear, which caused the fertilized or pollinated kernels silks to fall off, with only the silks of the unfertilized kernels left attached.  You can see on this green ear that we did get pretty good pollination except for the tip. This isn’t bad and, the tip may yet pollinate. As for the “brown silk” ear, you can see that we are on our way to roasting ear stage and that pollination is almost perfect. Now we wait for the long process of filling the ear and getting kernel depth and weight, which will require water from the soil and carbon/sugar production from the leaves via photosynthesis.

To read other blog posts by Kelly Robertson, click here.

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About the Author: Kelly Robertson

Kelly Robertson has been a soil fertility agronomist and precision agriculture consultant since 1989 and also spends time in farm/agronomy management roles for farms in Southern Illinois. In 2012, Kelly and his wife Lori started Precision Crop Services in Benton where they provide agronomic services for their customers including soil testing, crop scouting, data analysis, GPS/GIS services including variable rate seeding and fertility recommendations as well as farm and agronomy management for their customers. He is a Certified Professional Agronomist, Certified Crop Advisor, Certified 4R Nutrient Management Specialist, 2015 Illinois Soybean Association Double-Crop Specialist, 2016 Illinois CCA of the Year and the 2021 Illinois Soybean Assoc. Dave Rahe Excellence in Soils Consulting Award winner.

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