How to Hand Pollinate Corn: Tips for Ensuring Pure Heirloom Varieties
Hand pollinating corn is a great way to get well-filled ears in a small patch. It's easy, but it can be hard to keep out stray pollen unless you bag your silks. To do this, wait until the tassels are shedding and then pick and shake-shake-shake!
When hand pollinating, spacing is important as it can help prevent cross pollination. Unless the crop is right next to another one, 300 feet should be plenty of space. Windy micro climates can make this difficult, however, so if you're looking for true heirloom varieties, consider bagging silks and tassels. Seed savers has bags that are affordable and there are many helpful YouTube videos available to watch.
If doing entirely by hand, planting in single rows makes pollination much easier than blocks. However, some plants don't always tassel and silk at the same time so freezing pollen may be necessary. Additionally, 200 plants are needed to keep a variety stable when saving OP corn.
Overall, hand pollinating corn is an effective way to ensure rare heirloom varieties remain pure and true. With careful planning and proper spacing, it's possible to have success with hand pollination even in windy conditions.When hand pollinating, it's important to remember that the pollen is viable for only a few hours. To ensure success, collect and apply pollen in the morning when temperatures are cooler. Additionally, use a soft brush or cotton swab to gently transfer pollen from tassel to silk.
To keep out stray pollen, bagging silks can be helpful but may not always be necessary depending on your location and crop size. If you're looking for true heirloom varieties with no cross-pollination risk then consider using bags as an extra precautionary measure.
Finally, if saving OP corn (open-pollinated) seed stock then 200 plants should be planted in single rows rather than blocks so that pollination is easier and more efficient overall. This will help ensure rare heirloom varieties remain pure and true over time without any unwanted cross-pollination occurring between different types of corn plants nearby!
How can I successfully grow heirloom sweet corn?
Hand pollination is the best way to get well-filled ears in a small patch. Wait until the tassels are shedding and then pick and shake-shake-shake! To keep out stray pollen, bag your silks. If attempting to save OP corn, it's recommended to have at least 100-200 plants to keep a variety stable. Planting in single rows makes hand pollinating easier.
Is it necessary to keep 300 ft of spacing between my crop and other corn fields?
Truthfully, it wouldn't be necessary unless your crop is right next to theirs. 300 ft should be plenty of spacing unless it is directly down wind.
What resources are available to learn more about cross pollination and how to prevent it?
The following link should answer almost all of your questions about cross pollination and how to prevent it: [insert link]. Additionally, watching YouTube videos or reading articles on the subject can also be helpful.
How often should I hand pollinate my corn?
Hand pollinating should be done every other day, starting when the tassels are shedding. If you're planting a large patch of corn, it's best to spread out the pollination over several days.
What is the best way to store my heirloom sweet corn seeds?
To ensure your heirloom sweet corn seeds remain viable for future planting, store them in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. It's also important to label the container with the date and variety of seed.
What other tips do you have for growing heirloom sweet corn?
Here are a few additional tips for growing heirloom sweet corn: 1) Plant in blocks rather than single rows; 2) Provide plenty of water and fertilizer; 3) Rotate your crop each year; 4) Monitor for pests and diseases; 5) Harvest when the kernels are full and milky.