Top five things to know about corn pollination, says Adam Spelhaug, an agronomist with Peterson Farms Seed, Harwood, N.D.
1) It happens quickly, usually in just 7 to 10 days. Peak pollen shed lasts about four days.
2) Temperatures of 95 degrees F and higher can mean trouble. Silks will dry up and won't be able to receive pollen. If soil and plant moisture is adequate, hot weather is less of a problem.
3) Drought during tasseling can reduce yields 10-25%. Drought during pollination can take 40-50% off yields. Normally, a corn plant needs to be fully stressed with extensive leaf rolling for at least four days to induce the higher-end of yield loss ranges.
4) Rootworm beetles will feed on pollen grains and clips the silks. Kernels may be lost as a result of this feeding.
5) Long stretches of overcast skies can reduce photosynthesis, leading to abortion of recently fertilized ovules. Cloudy weather also can delay the onset of pollination.
"I encourage you to track the weather as well as some of these other variables during pollination. If your corn's kernel set is not ideal, you'll be able to use this information to zero in on the reasonable cause," says Spelhaug.