No cobs on the corn stalks: why is my corn not producing cobs?

We’re growing corn this year and it’s pretty inspiring. I swear I can practically see it growing right in front of my eyes. Like everything else we grow, we hope the result will be sweet and juicy corn for late summer barbecues, but I’ve had some problems in the past, and maybe you have too. Have you ever grown corn plants without cobs?

Why is my corn not producing cobs?

A maize plant that does not produce could be the result of climate change, disease or insect problems that affect the plant’s ability to pollinate properly, and thus form healthy cobs or any ears. To fully answer the question «Why is my maize not producing cobs», a lesson needs to be learned about maize breeding.

Corn plants produce individual male and female flowers, both of which begin as bisexual. As the flower develops, the female (gynaecium) features of the male flowers and the male features (stamens) of the developing female flower terminate. The end result is an acorn, which is male, and a tip, which is female.

The bristles that emerge from the cob are the stigmas of the female corn flower. Pollen from the male flower adheres to the end of the silk, where a pollen tube develops along the stigma to the ovary. This is the basic sex of corn 101.

Without adequate silk production or pollination, the plant will not produce grains, but why doesn’t the plant produce ears? Here are the most likely reasons:

  • Poor irrigation – One of the reasons that corn plants do not produce cobs is related to irrigation. Corn has shallow roots and is therefore susceptible to water shortages. Drought stress is usually indicated by leaf curling as well as a change in leaf tone. In addition, excessive irrigation can cause pollen leaching and affect the plant’s ability to produce cobs.
  • Diseases – Second, diseases such as bacterial wilt, root and stem rot, and viral and fungal diseases can cause corn stalks to spike. Always buy clean, inoculated seed from reputable nurseries and rotate crops.
  • Pests – Nematodes can also infect the soil around the roots. These microscopic worms feed on the roots and disrupt their ability to absorb nutrients and water.
  • Fertilization – In addition, the amount of nitrogen available to the plant affects the plant by encouraging foliage growth, so there are no ears of corn on the stems. If the available nitrogen is limited, the plant needs a lot of calcium and potassium to produce cobs.
  • Spacing – Finally, one of the most common reasons there are no ears of corn on the corn stalks is spacing. Corn plants should be planted in groups of four feet long with at least four rows. Corn depends on wind for pollination. Therefore the plants must be close enough together when they are moved to fertilize; otherwise, manual pollination of maize may be necessary.

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