Silk and Tassel Development in Corn

Silk and Tassel Development in Corn

Silks and tassels are emerging and the smell of pollen is in the air in fields throughout the State! Two recent articles from Dr. Bob Nielsen, Purdue University, may be helpful for a refresher and also to learn something new regarding silk and tassel development and pollination.

Tassel Emergence and Pollen Shed

Did you know?

“Approximately 1,000 individual spikelets form on each tassel and each one bears two florets encased in two large glumes. Each floret contains three anthers. An anther and its attached filament comprise the stamen of the male flower. The anthers are those "thingamajigs" that hang from the tassel during pollination. Under a magnifying lens, individual anthers look somewhat like the double barrel of a shotgun. Do the math and you will realize that an individual tassel produces approximately 6,000 pollen-bearing anthers, although hybrids can vary greatly for this number." Read more about tassel emergence and pollen shed in corn.

Silk Development and Emergence in Corn

Did you know?

“The corn plant produces individual male and female flowers (a flowering habit called monoecious for you corny trivia fans.) Interestingly, both flowers are initially bisexual (aka “perfect” flowers), but during the course of development the female components (gynoecia) of the male flowers and the male components (stamens) of the female flowers abort, resulting in unisexual tassel (male) and ear (female) development. Tassel emergence and function are discussed in a separate article (Nielsen, 2020)." Read more about silk development and emergence in corn.

Corn silk
Photo by Jenny Rees
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