How to Tell if Corn is Pollinated

With the advance of modern agriculture, it has become increasingly important to know how and when to tell if corn is pollinated correctly. Corn relies heavily on successful pollination to grow strong and healthy stalks with an abundance of ripe ears. Whether you’re a farmer looking for a bountiful harvest or simply curious about this fascinating process, learning the signs of successful pollination can be helpful for both producers and consumers alike. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the methods used to determine if corn is properly pollinated from the time the tassels appear until those precious kernels are ready to reap.

Understand the anatomy of the corn plant and its pollen

The corn plant has a unique structure: the leaves are divided into small segments known as blades, and the stem is sturdy and tall enough to support multiple tassels. Each tassel produces both male and female parts, with the male parts releasing pollen which is then carried by the wind to fertilize the female part of another tassel. For pollination to be successful, pollen must reach the right part of a nearby corn plant – otherwise, it will not result in fertilization and therefore no fruit or kernels. As such, understanding the anatomy of each corn plant – its leaves, stems, and tassels – is critical for successful agriculture efforts that yield high-quality crops.

Learn to identify the various stages of corn pollination

Understanding the four main stages of corn pollination is essential for successful crop production. The stages are silking, tasselling, pollen shed, and fertilization. Silking occurs when the ears of corn start to emerge from the plants. As silks become visible, they should be monitored closely for optimal fertilization. Tasseling is when the male flowers located at the top of a corn plant begin to release their pollen grains. During this stage, extremely dry weather can seriously impair pollination and reduce yield potential. Pollen shed is what follows tasselling; pollen shed is when tiny grains of corn pollen is spread throughout the field by wind or insects. Lastly, fertilization comes when individual kernels on an ear form as a result of successful germination between two compatible genetic lines. Being able to recognize each stage will help ensure successful pollination and great yields.

Recognize what a pollinated ear looks like compared to an unpollinated ear

Knowing how to recognize a pollinated ear of corn is important for farmers or other growers as it can help predict the potential harvest. When compared to an unpollinated ear, the pollinated one will have more kernels along its cob which will typically be smaller than those of the unpollinated one. In general, pollinated ears will appear fuller and often exhibit silks on each end. On the other hand, unpollinated ears will not contain as many kernels, will usually have longer cobs, and may have some yellow coloration which indicates maturing of the cob but a lack of kernel growth. Being cognizant of these visual differences can provide helpful information when estimating yields or simply monitoring corn growth in the field.

Identify the various shapes, sizes, and colors of corn kernels

Corn is a beloved and versatile vegetable available in numerous shapes, sizes, and colors. Kernels come in all sorts of hues, from yellow to white to red, as well as black corn that is used for popcorn. Every color has its unique flavor profile, ranging from sweet to buttery with some having hints of anise or nutmeg. Additionally, their sizes vary greatly depending on their variety with some having larger kernels compared to others. Lastly, they can be oval-shaped or round with some hybrids owning more irregularly shaped kernels than others. All these factors bring the total number of options for corn to thousands so it’s no surprise why it’s such a popular food around the world.

Check for cob hairs and silk strands on pollinated ears

As part of any corn crop inspection, pollinated ears should be carefully examined for any cob hairs or silk strands that may indicate insect damage or improper pollination. Cob’s hairs are the small hairs protruding from the distinct rows of kernels on the corn ear, while silk strands extend up and away from the husk and connect to the kernels. While these signs may seem insignificant, they can reveal important insights about a particular crop’s health, so it is essential to check thoroughly for them during inspections. Additionally, since cob hairs and silk strands are indicators of maturity, examining their presence can help farmers determine when corn reaches its peak stage for harvest.

Use a magnifying glass to observe the tassels and see if they have already released their pollen

When conducting an observation of the tassels of a corn plant, a magnifying glass can be an instrumental tool. This is especially true if you are looking for signs that the plant has already released its pollen. It can be difficult to distinguish between mature and immature tassels without zooming in on the individual flowers within them, but with this simple tool, it becomes much easier. When using a magnifying glass to observe the tassels of corn plants, is an effective way to determine if the pollen has been released and fertilization has occurred.


To sum it up, pollinating corn involves a lot of careful observation and a sharp eye. While keeping an eye out for signs like cob hairs, silk strands, and magnified tassels are important things to look for, understanding the anatomy of the corn plant is also very useful in determining if an ear is pollinated or unpollinated. With this newfound knowledge in hand, you can be sure that the next harvest will be full of sweet ripe ears, ready to be enjoyed with family and friends.