Controlled Pollination of Maize

This is a primer on the method of controlled maize pollination used to prevent contamination. Click on the images to see larger versions.


Step 1


Shootbags are secured on the top ear of the plant to cover the shoot before the silk emerges to prevent pollen contamination.

Step 2


Shootbags must be placed tightly around the ear so the bag will stay on regardless of the elements.

The Day Before Pollination

Step 3


To ensure fresh silk for pollination, ears are cut the day before pollination is to occur.

Step 4


A shootbag is promptly placed over the freshly cut ear to protect it.

Step 5


Workers fold the top of the shootbag away from the ear to indicate which ears will be used for pollination the following day.

Step 6


Check the plant's tassels to ensure that the plant will shed enough pollen for the next day.

Step 7


A bag is carefully placed over the plant's tassels.

Step 8


Workers grasp the tassel by holding the bag and making a central ridge for better support.

Step 9


The bag's flaps are then secured with a non-skid paper clip.

The Day of Pollination

Step 10


The bag is tapped five to seven times to release pollen from the tassels.

Step 11


Workers need to be careful so other pollen sources do not get into the bag when they take down the bags.

Step 12


Hold the opening of the bag so it is kept shut. Fold the opening of the bag towards the front side of the bag with crosses records.

Step 13


Put the folded half of the bag over the shoot to be pollinated.

Step 14


Pull out the shootbag while covering the shoot with the pollination bag so the silk is never exposed.

Step 15


Straighten the bag and tap slightly so the pollen is introduce to the fresh silk.

Step 16


Staple all four flaps of the bag tightly against the stalk with one staple.