Maize Cross-Pollination: Prevention of Maize Cross-Pollination

Corrugated corn stalk fields are a classic in many parts of the United States. The impressive height and large volume of the plants is a symbol of American agriculture and a cash crop of enormous economic importance. To keep this cash crop at its optimum, it is essential to prevent cross-pollination of corn. Read on to learn more.

Is cross-pollination of maize possible?

The corn is pollinated by the wind, which picks up the fine dust and swirls it around the field. Some corn is self-pollinating, but most depend on the other plants that accompany it for pollination.

Can corn pollinate? Most varieties are easily pollinated, but the resulting plants are not of the same variety as the parent plants, and may even be of a completely different variety. Hybrid varieties are diluted over time by cross-pollination, resulting in plants that do not carry the carefully cultivated characteristics. Subsequent generations may even perpetuate the problems that the original plants were bred to prevent.

Information on cross-pollination of maize

What about corn cross-pollination? Instead of pollinating insects such as moths, bees and butterflies by exchanging pollen between plants through their activities, corn needs wind. This random and capricious method of pollination allows a large area to be pollinated by the same strain of pollen.

When a gust of wind crumples the acorns of the corn plants, it catches the ripe pollen and sweeps it onto the other corn flowers. The danger comes when another corn stump grows nearby. The effects of cross-pollination can result in new generation plants with unfavourable characteristics.

Much research has been conducted to improve plant hybrids with the goal of increasing yields, reducing pest and disease problems and creating a more vigorous corn variety. Cross-pollination of corn can reduce these bioengineering gains that science has developed. Preventing corn cross-pollination is important to preserve the corn strain that has been planted.

Prevention of corn cross-pollination

High yielding farmers are armed with information on cross-pollination of maize to help them avoid losing the original crop. The effects of cross-pollination can be reduced characteristics, but can also include a phenomenon called hybrid vigor. This is when the next generation or two of cross-pollination produces improved plants. This is usually not the case. Therefore, it is important to prevent cross-pollination of maize to preserve the crop variety that the grower has selected for its qualities.

The best way to do this is to prevent other strains from developing in neighbouring fields. Plant only one maize variety to prevent open pollination from becoming cross-pollinated and moving to other maize varieties. Only uncontaminated crops, which only receive pollen from their strain, can retain the desired characteristics. Pollen can travel a mile in a few minutes with a wind of only 15 mph, but the number of pellets is considerably reduced. The researchers decided that a 150-foot cushion between the different varieties of corn is enough to prevent most cross-pollination.

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