Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Development FAIL

We've had lots of 90F days in the field and the corn is popping! I've heard that at the height of a Midwestern summer, the corn grows so fast you can literally hear the plants popping (as air spaces in the internodes open up).

Upstate NY isn't exactly in the record-breaking 300 bushel club (and in fact a lot of our corn gets fed to dairy cattle whether it produces grain or not) but we've been very busy de-tasseling and pollinating all the same.*

Here's another quick picture from our field: tassel-ear. Get what's wrong with this plant? It's the ancestral state of grasses (whether its your lawn fescue or maize's close relative, sorghum) to produce male + female bits, and eventually seed, all in the same spike or panicle. Maize and it's closest relative teosinte have evolved a developmental pathway that suppresses female bits in the apical "tassel," but as with everything, it doesn't work 100% all the time...

If you look closely, you can see that the base of this ear is made of up of immature tassels!

*more on this when I find some extended writing time

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