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We have grown some bought-in sweetcorn this year, the only thing that has grown with any vigour and hasn't been attached by rabbits and mice (yet!).  The tassels have been brown for a couple of weeks now and we've been testing for ripeness.  They just don't seem to be ripening and those that are, have patches throughout the cob where the kernals are small and totally unripened.  The cobs are smaller than usual and some plants have a secondary small cob near the main one.  Any ideas what the problem may be? They are on free draining soil and have been very well watered and grown in the usual block formation. Thanks in anticipation.


  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114
    It's all about pollination. The pollen fertilizes each individual kernel, not the whole cob, so inevitably some get missed. Each 'string' leads to one kernel.
  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,941

    As Welshonion said, lack of pollination.  Next year, plant them in blocks- not rows (if that's perhaps what you' we done).. That will help.  Also, I give my plants a daily shake in the morning if I'm out there, and will even gently pull my hand along the the pollen and touch the silks.  This year I've really noticed the difference.  I had two types of corn, one that matured several weeks before the other.  The first variety I hand pollinated, but was away on a weeks holiday when the second one came ready for pollination.. and even though they were both block planted, there is a huge discrepancy in pollonated kernels.  Obviously there are a host of other factors, but I'll just disregard those.  image

    Utah, USA.
  • TeenrbeeTeenrbee Posts: 57

    Thanks for your replies Welshonion and Blue Onion.  We have planted them in a block as usual. Never had a problem like this with sweetcorn before, last year they were eaten by, we think either a deer or a badger that got into the garden judging by the devastation caused in one night And just when we were planning to harvest the next day, typical.  We didn't realise that about pollination, just really relied on the wind and an odd shake before! Really great tip, will definitely be paying more attention next year. Thanks again.

  • Give them time to ripen.  If conditions this summer haven't been ideal, they might ripen more slowly than before. 

  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114
    In the RHS garden at Wisley they put an electric fence around the sweetcorn to protect them from the badgers.
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