3 Rules For Evaluating Corn Pollination

Corn pollination is among the most important phases of crop development. Ultimately, drought stress during pollination can result in poor pollination and fewer kernels per ear. Although ear size is established earlier in the season, hot and dry conditions can delay silking, reduce silk elongation, and if severe, impede embryo development which will limit the yield.

Golden Harvest agronomists recommend you follow these steps to evaluate corn pollination in your field:

  1. Look for silk detachment: Once the kernel has pollinated, silk will detach from the ear. Husk and shake the ear, waiting for silk to remove itself. The silk of a well-pollinated ear will fall, leaving some silk attached at the tip. Lots of silk clinging to the middle or butt of the ear signifies a lack of pollination caused by stress, often heat or drought stress during the critical pollination period.
  2. Know your hybrid: Kernel number is closely related to yield, so you may be alarmed to find your ear may not be filled to the tip with kernels. Often referred to as tip back, this can be a sign of drought or other stress at pollination. However, some hybrids naturally won’t fill to the top. Based on your environment or hybrid variety, you may expect up to an inch of tip back. Your local Golden Harvest Seed Advisor™ can address concerns regarding kernel number.
  3. Evaluate thoroughly: Farmers should go beyond the ear shake test and consider the entire ear of corn while analyzing pollination. Aborted kernels – signified by being white and shrunken – are a sign that something has gone wrong in the post-pollination process. Look for missing or poorly filled kernels, and evaluate the overall seed set of the ears in several different parts of your field to estimate the impact on your crops.


Contact your local independent Golden Harvest Seed Advisor with questions or for additional agronomic insights.

Photos are either the property of Syngenta or used under agreement.

Syngenta hereby disclaims liability for third-party websites.

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