I received a question the other day from a worried gardener. “Do the corn cobs form after it tassels?” All she could see were the beautiful corn stalks but not a cob in sight.
At first sight it looked like the stalks might be too close together to let enough sunlight in. The sunlight is what allows the corn cobs to develop. If the plants are too close in the total area then all you will get is fodder for the compost or your favorite pig. When we seed the corn it is about 8 to 12 inches apart in each row and then the row is in double rows 24 inches apart. We allow 36 inches and plant another set of two 24 inch rows. The reason we do it this way is to use just one dripper-tape per two rows of corn. It can space it differently but just remember to allow for enough sunlight to develop the corn cobs.
After we seed the corn we cover each set of rows with perforated greenhouse plastic making individual greenhouses for every double row. This protects the corn from early frost and ripens the corn two to three weeks earlier.
Once your corn cob begins to form the silks will show up on top of the cob. That is when the tassels on the stalk will release their pollen and with the help of the wind the pollen will drop on the silk to form the kernels. A single thread of silk is attached to each kernel. If a silk does not pollinate then you will get what you call ‘granny corn’ or corn that has gaps or missing kernels on the cob. It takes about 18 days from tassel drop to ripe corn on the table.
So if your corn is seeded too far apart in the rows the kernels will not get pollinated or if seeded too close you will just have fodder and no corn for dinner. I hope that your corn was planted just right. Happy eating tonight!