popcorn ears


I was worried about my popcorn. Tassels but no ears. And then all of a sudden, I have a corn patch full of little ears. Even some big ones. Amazing how fast they form!

I think I may have had the same worry last year. Now that I see the ears, this seems like something that has happened before.

I’ve been meaning to figure out what to do to avoid corn ear worms this year. Last year they ate the tip of every ear. I haven’t gotten a plan yet and it may be too late now.

I have one ear with bright red tassels! Now how did that happen? All the rest are pale yellow.

popcorn 2 popcorn 5
popcorn 3

14 Comments. Leave new

  • That is so strange that one of the tassels is bright red. I wonder what caused that.

  • The bright red tasseled ear must be the Punk Rock teenager corn 🙂

    My mother always grew popcorn at the farm when I was young. It was the best popcorn I ever ate. What variety did you plant? I am hoping to get a community plot next year. Then I can plant some of these fun & interesting crops for my grandson.

  • Those pictures show that you have a great talent in farming. I can see it in your corns. They look so healthy. Looks like that harvest is going to be so great.

  • We just cut off any munched on tops when I was a kid. The same thing I do now if one slips past when I'm buying them.

    Can tomato plants be composted? I've always not done that due to the toxic stuff, but I've been wondering.

  • I love corn and I am thinking of planting some next year. I've been browsing your blog and seems like you have great success in the garden. I hope to learn from you as I am a newbie in gardening.

    Did you ever figure out what caused the red tassels?

  • The red is probably just an accidental cross or sport (chance mutation).

    It looks great! The ears on mine have just started to form too. I'm worried about birds eating mine, and wondering what to do about that…

  • I've read that you can elastic a paper bag over the ear to protect it from birds and other pests.

  • I guess I will just chop off the eaten part this year, like last year.

    I also read about bags over the ears, but I also read its important that each kernel is pollinated. Each silk brings a pollen grain down to a kernel! So when does the bag go on?

  • How weird, the red tassels! One single ear in my small corn patch also is red! I was concerned but it doesn't look different, just colored. I think some varieties of corn have all red tassels so I hope it's just a genetic thing, like having red hair. I wonder if the corn will be a different color?

  • The silk dies off and turns brown after the ear is pollinated, so you can put on a bag then.

    Bags are a good idea, but depending on how many plants you have, it could end up being a lot.

  • Several more red silk ears are showing up. I have 3 or 4 of then. Maybe 5-10% of my ears.

    The main reason I'm surprised is that I grew the same variety last year and no red silk.

    Last year I grew two varieties, Faribo White Hulless Popcorn (which I mail ordered from Sand Hill Preservation) and Baby Golden (which Sand Hill included free with my seed order). When planting two varieties together its important they both have the same days to maturity, which both of these do (100 days). The other thing I found out is that they both cross pollinate so every ear ends up mixed. In this case – yellow and white.

    This year I wanted all one color, so I planted just Baby Golden.

    Anyway, no red silk last year, but several this year. Recessive genetics? Or maybe I should check out the color of my neighbor's corn silk? I am curious if the kernels are different color too. I don't know yet.

    In any case, I will watch for the silks to turn brown and will try to put small paper bags over the ears to reduce the corn ear worms. I don't think my plot is too big for this. About 5 ft by 10 ft, with about 60 stalks growing, hopefully 60 ears, though I think more like 30 this year, because I planted them too close.

  • Normally you don't see the results of cross pollination right away, you only see it the following generation after you have replanted saved seeds.

    There may be a few exceptions to this rule for corn. For example, I understand if you grow commercial hybrid corn with the supersweet gene (called sh2), you have to keep it from crossing with other corn or it will lose some of it's sweetness. Perhaps this is also true with the color of the kernels, I don't know much about corn breeding.

    I doubt this could have anything to do with the color of the silks, because the silks develop their color before the plants are pollinated. If you have 5-10% red silks, I suspect Sand Hill had some crossing between their plants.

    It's hard to completely isolate varieties of corn grown near each other, and I know Sand Hill grows quite a few different ones. It won't surprise me at all if there was some crossing between their plants.

    The Seed Savers Exchange bought a very expensive and large tract of isolated land in Iowa. One of the reasons they gave was the need to isolate their varieties from commercial GM varieties, because there's so much corn pollen in the air in Iowa it's difficult to isolate corn anywhere.

  • I grew Dutch Butter popcorn last year, and got the red tassles too. This year's crop also has some. Not that I know why, but the corn that grew was white, so it doesn't necessarily have to do with kernel color.

  • I also grow popcorn (strawberry) and I sprinkle Diatomaceous earth on the tassles to kill or deter the earwigs. I've done that for two summers now and it works wonders. The best part is that it's safe for kids and dogs! Most garden centers sell it and here in the West, I can even get it at Lowe's.


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