The following information was collected from various sources including Wikipedia, the University of Illinois Extension website, the USDA National Agricultural Library, and other websites. Some of it may be outdated or incorrect. If you have any additional information please let us know!
What are ears?
Ears are the male reproductive organs produced by female flowers during flowering. They consist of two parts: an ear cup (the part at the top) and a stalk (the part near the bottom). The stem is called the cotyledons.
Why does my corn not produce ears?
There are several reasons why your corn will not grow ears. These include:
1. Too much sun exposure – too many days with direct sunlight, especially if they are overcast or cloudy.
You need to protect your crop from excessive light exposure.
2. Too little water – too few hours of rain, too much irrigation, or lack of watering after rainfall.
Watering after rain is particularly important because the moisture helps keep the plant healthy and prevents buds from bursting open prematurely.
3. Over fertilization – too much fertilizer applied to excess during planting season or in late summer/early fall when leaves begin to turn yellow.
Too little fertilizer application may cause buds to burst early which results in poor yields and low quality corn.
4. Too much nitrogen – too many high nitrogen materials applied during planting season.
For the first few weeks after planting, corn needs a lot of nitrogen to promote leaf and stem growth which eventually become food for the developing kernels. If too much nitrogen is applied, the plant will grow too quickly for the developing ears to keep up. The corn will fall over prematurely.
5. Too much water – same concept as too little water.
If there is too much water around the roots, the plant will not need to send down strong roots deep into the ground in order to find more water. It will also be able to survive with less of a stem and ear.
6. Not enough light – corn needs at least 10 hours of sunlight per day for proper ear development.
If it does not get enough sunlight, it will not grow ears or they will be deformed.
Sources & references used in this article:
Sucrose Content in the Stalks of Maize Inbreds 1 by R Van Reen, WR Singleton – Agronomy Journal, 1952 – dl.sciencesocieties.org
Effect of seedling injury by the stalk borer (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) on regrowth and yield of corn by E Levine, SL Clement… – Journal of economic …, 1984 – academic.oup.com
Ear rots of corn by TJ Burrill, JT Barrett – … campus). Agricultural Experiment Station); no …, 1909 – ideals.illinois.edu
Competition of Setaria faberii with Corn and Soybeans by EL Knake, FW Slife – Weeds, 1962 – cambridge.org
Boron deficiency, a cause of blank stalks and barren ears in corn by KC Berger, T Heikkinen, E Zube – Soil Science Society of …, 1957 – Wiley Online Library
Sucrose in the stalks of maize inbreds by WR Singleton – Science, 1948 – science.sciencemag.org
Mycotoxins and Fusarium spp. associated with infected ears of corn in Minnesota. by HK Abbas, CJ Mirocha, RA Meronuck… – Applied and …, 1988 – Am Soc Microbiol