Here is an instructional video filmed at
the Native Seeds/SEARCH farm.
Corn has both male (tassel) and female (ear) flowers on the same plant. Male flowers on the
tassel mature when anthers emerge from spikelet flowers, and pollen is dispersed through holes
at the tips of the anthers. The tassel is usually fully emerged before any pollen is shed. Pollen
shed begins at the middle of the central spike of the tassel and spreads out later over the whole
tassel with the lower branches last to shed pollen. Pollen shed usually begins two to three days
prior to silk emergence and continues for five to eight days with peak shed on the third day.
Place a paper bag, or specially made silk bag purchased from other sellers, over the ear before
you see any silks emerging from the leaves around the ear. They will continue to grow inside the
bag. Once the silks emerge they are open to receive pollen. You want to control this process and
only allow the silks to receive pollen of your choosing.
On a typical midsummer day, the shedding of pollen is in the morning between 9:00 and 11:00
a.m. Cool, cloudy, humid conditions will delay the onset of daily pollen shed. Gently shake the
corn stalk and you will see the yellow pollen gently fall from the tassle. When you have pollen
shed and silks emerging you can begin hand pollination. Collect ample amounts of pollen in a
paper bag by bending down the stalk and shake the tassel inside. Collecting pollen from more
than one tassel will increase your diversity. You will be able to see a tablespoon or more of
collected pollen inside the bag. Take of the bags that were placed over the ears to expose the
silks. Gently shake the pollen over the silks so that they may contact. You can also use a small
paint brush to brush on the pollen. Make sure it is thoroughly cleaned with hot water and dried
before working with a different variety.
To avoid further pollen from another corn variety place a paper bag over the ear and use a stapler
to keep it closed. The ear will continue to grow inside. You have minimized the ability for
foreign pollen to get inside. You can also write the dates on the paper bags to track the dates of