Problems With Corn: Information On Early Corn Tasseling

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By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

You’ve planted your corn and to the best of your ability have provided adequate corn plant care,but why are your corn plant tassels coming out so soon? This is one of the most common problems with corn and one that leaves many gardeners wanting answers. Let’s learn more about what may be causing early corn tasseling and what, if anything, can be done about it.

What are Corn Plant Tassels?

The male flower of the corn plant is known as a corn tassel. After the bulk of the plant growth is complete, tassels will appear on top of the plant. Corn plant tassels can be green, purple or yellow.

The tassel’s job is to produce pollen that encourages the growth and ripening of the corn ear. Wind carries the pollen to the female flower, or the silk, on the corn plant.

Corn is not overly difficult to grow; however, some gardeners have concerns when their corn tassels too soon.

Growing Corn and Corn Plant Care

Corn is most productive when the daytime temperatures are between 77 and 91 F. (12-33 C.) and the temperatures at night are between 52 and 74 F. (11-23 C.).

Corn needs lots of moisture, especially on hot and sunny days when the humidity is low. Corn needs at least 1 inch of water every seven days until it is about 15 inches tall and at least an inch of water every five days until tassels form. After tassels form, corn needs to be watered 1 inch every three days until the corn matures.

Problems with Corn Tassels Too Soon

In order for sweet corn to grow to its full maturity, proper tasseling, silking and pollination are necessary. However, early corn tasseling usually results when plants are stressed.

Corn that is exposed to cold temperatures early in the growing season may develop tassels too early. On the flip side, corn tassels too soon can occur if it is stressed by drought, nutrient deficiencies or hot and dry conditions.

One of the best ways to deal with early corn tasseling is by planting corn during the most desired times and providing adequate moisture and nutrients helps corn set tassels at the right time and resist stressful conditions.

If your corn tassels too soon, however, do not worry. Most of the time the plant will continue to grow and produce tasty corn for you.

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