Bob Nielsen

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Field corn in Indiana typically enters the critical flowering stages of pollen shed and silk emergence sometime between late June to late July. Success or failure during this period of the corn plant’s life greatly influences the potential grain yield at harvest time.


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The silks that emerge from the ear shoot are the functional stigmas of the female flowers of a corn plant. Each silk connects to an individual ovule (potential kernel). A given silk must be pollinated in order for the ovule to be fertilized and develop into a kernel. Up to 1000 ovules typically form per ear, even though typically only 400 to 600 actual kernels per ear survive until harvest.