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Hand-Pollinating Corn for Seed Saving

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Hand-pollination of corn for seed saving, including pollen collection, pollination, marking and recording. Hand-pollination may be necessary to preserve the characteristics of corn varieties in areas …

Hand-pollination of corn for seed saving, including pollen collection, pollination, marking and recording. Hand-pollination may be necessary to preserve the characteristics of corn varieties in areas where other varieties of corn are being grown nearby (within 1-2 miles). Video is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azhlusBUsiY

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  • Hand pollination allows us to maintain the traits of a particular variety of corn, even if there is a different variety producing pollen nearby at the same time. This is Seneca Red Stalker, a variety of corn known for its dark red stalks and husks, and multi-colored tassels. In order to maintain these characteristics, the corn has to be isolated from the pollen of other varieties. Because corn pollen can travel up to 2 miles, isolating by distance (especially here in Iowa, where many of our neighbors grow corn) can be difficult. Hand pollination allows us to grow varieties close together and still prevent cross pollination.
  • Corn Hand-Pollination overview
  • Female corn flower.
  • Male corn flower.
  • Anthers beginning to drop.
  • Close-up of anthers.
  • Anthers have all dropped.
  • Anthers shedding pollen.
  • Covering shoots with bags
  • Uncut shoot on left, cut shoot on right
  • Uncut shoot on left, cut shoot on right
  • Removing leaf around shoot
  • Cutting open top of shoot
  • Using shoot bag to create slit
  • Covering shoot with bag
  • Bagging tassels
  • Bagging tassels
  • Bags stapled around stalk
  • Stapling bags
  • After collecting pollen, consolidating pollen into a couple bags
  • Sifting anthers from pollen
  • Filling shoot bag with pollen
  • Pollen-filled shoot bag
  • Transcript

    • 1. Presented by Sarah Noller & Christy Marsden 2012 Seed Savers Exchange Webinar Series Corn Hand-Pollination
    • 2. Our mission is to save North America’s diverse, but endangered, garden heritage for future generations by building a network of people committed to collecting, conserving, and sharing heirloom seeds and plants, while educating people about the value of genetic and cultural diversity.
    • 3. Corn is a monoecious plant, having separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The male flower is the tassel which produces anthers that shed pollen. The female flower is the ear. The silks are the stigmas and are receptive to pollen along their entire length.
    • 4. Corn is a monoecious plant, having separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The male flower is the tassel which produces anthers that shed pollen. The female flower is the ear. The silks are the stigmas and are receptive to pollen along their entire length. Each silk is attached to an ovary that will become a kernel if successfully fertilized. There are several essential steps in controlled pollinations of corn.
    • 5. Ear shoot bags - Lawson Tassel bags - Lawson Colored Flagging Ribbon (red, orange, blue, and purple) Stapler & Staples Permanent markers Hand-held metal strainers Scissors and/or pruners Hand sanitizer Aprons (for carrying pollinating supplies) All-weather journal for keeping track of pollinations in the field Materials
    • 6. Step 1 Ear Shoot Bagging and Cutting Back Silks
    • 7. Step 2 Bagging Tassels
    • 8. Step 3 Collecting Pollen
    • 9. Step 4 Pollinating
    • 10. Thank you! Questions? 2012 Seed Savers Exchange Webinar Series For more information please visit these resources: Seed Savers Exchange website: www.seedsavers.org Forum: forum.seedsavers.org Online Yearbook: yearbook.seedsavers.org To learn more about seed saving Read Suzanne Ashworth’s Seed-to-Seed Visit www.seedalliance.org for the free publication, A Seed Saving Guide for Gardners & Farmers

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