Sweetcorn Bolting

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JJDigger

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Sweetcorn Bolting
« on: August 13, 2022, 12:42 »
Hi, I'm posting after a long lurk.  I garden in South Cambridgeshire.

Have had some illness over the last two years; my plot went to the dogs last year, and to some extent this.

Managed to get some sweetcorn in late at the end of June (Marshalls' Honeydew Improved) and have watered consistently.  Chitted and grown on the Harrison way.  The plants are growing fine generally, and are about at the stage when they would normally be beginning to form cobs on sideshoots.  However, none of them are, but instead the flowers are appearing early, and they appear to be bolting.  I assume this is to do with the extreme heat we have been experiencing, though the late planting may also be a factor.  Got a reasonable crop of "Swift" last year, which was about the only summer crop I managed then.

Is there anything I can do to stimulate cob formation but hold the flowers back?  Suspect not much at this stage, but would appreciate any comments.  God willing, they will be planted out on time next year, weather permitting.  Happily, my runner and French beans and tomatoes are going away splendidly and the butternut squash plants have gone crazy, with plenty of good sized fruit, but I will miss my sweetcorn unless you can help!

With many thanks for any suggestions.

JJDigger
JJ

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JayG

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Re: Sweetcorn Bolting
« Reply #1 on: August 13, 2022, 13:00 »
In my experience sweetcorn always cuts it fine timing-wise when it comes to the appearance of the silks - the tassels usually seem to be ready a few days ahead of them.

Seems to work out OK in the end (helps if some plants in the block were held back before planting out so they're not all at the same stage of development at the same time.)
The current weather should be helpful (excessively windy and/or wet conditions can significantly affect pollination.)

Don't think there is much you can do to accelerate the silk development - I have heard of people who harvest the pollen from the tassels to try to manually pollinate the silks, but I don't have any information as to how to store the pollen or how long it remains viable for.
Sow your seeds, plant your plants. What's the difference? A couple of weeks or more when answering possible queries!

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jaydig

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Re: Sweetcorn Bolting
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2022, 13:09 »
Mine often do the same, and just as you're panicking about the appearance of silks and cobs they suddenly appear almost overnight.   They will sort themselves out, don't worry.

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Goosegirl

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Re: Sweetcorn Bolting
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2022, 10:52 »
I have four Swift in my greenhouse and yes, the tassels grew but the cobs were only just thinking about forming. Methinks there is a personal communication between them both because when I tapped their stems so the pollen could just drift wherever, then lo and behold, the silks appeared! I did this every day for just over two weeks until none of the tassels produced any more pollen, then tapped the leaves so as to distribute any pollen on them onto the silks.
I work very hard so don't expect me to think as well.

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JJDigger

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Re: Sweetcorn Bolting
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2022, 22:53 »
Thank you jayg, jaydig and goosegirl.

Indeed, a few silks have started to appear in the last few days since I posted - must have been something you said - but I recall that I failed to put any sulphate of ammonia down as recommended by John, and will add some to see if this stimulates the cob formation.

Hoping for a better organised season next year after a good clearout this autumn.



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