You’ve probably noticed while driving through the countryside that the cornfields have recently taken a different look. That’s because the corn plants have “tasseled”. The tassels are the bright yellow formations that have popped up on the tops of all the stalks and seem to put a yellow coating over the entire field. You’ve also maybe noticed that your allergies have kicked into high gear…that’s because these tassels are producing pollen. More on that in a minute.
Prior to tasseling, the corn plant is in a growing stage and it is completely focused on producing its stalks, leaves and roots. Once corn tassels, its sole purpose becomes producing grain. Its purpose becomes the formation of the largest ear possible.
Corn plants contain both male flowers (tassels) and female flowers (corn silks) on the same plant. Pollen is shed from the tassel for between five to eight days depending on the hybrid. Each plant produces about 1000 silks and each tassel contains two to five million grains of pollen; this equates to 2,000 to 5,000 grains of pollen for each silk. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it…one grain of pollen is needed to fertilize a single silk. And then the ear starts growing!
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