If you follow the local news or USDA crop reports, you may have seen or heard the term “silking” used in updates on the state’s corn crop progress. Silking is a crucial part of the plant’s pollination process, which ultimately determines a farm’s overall yield.
The corn plant produces silks around 65 days after emerging. They are long silky, yellowish thread-like vegetation and each connects to a kernel and runs several inches outside of the husk to collect the pollen being released by tassels. A silk must be pollinated in order for its connected kernel to have an opportunity to develop.
If you want to get more technical, the University of Purdue has excellent information available on their website.
In the latest USDA crop progress report, South Dakota’s corn crop was 9% silked, 4% ahead of last year and equal to the five-year average.
It may seem strange, but corn silks can be a part of a healthy diet as they contain proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Corn silk can be used to make tea and has historically been used for medicinal purposes to treat bladder infections, high blood pressure, fatigue and arthritis pain along with many other illnesses.
Amazing, right? This is just another example of how the corn plant is improving lives and improving the world in which we live.