The Ups and Downs of Hand-pollinating Corn
If you are like me and farm in an area where ear wigs are a big problem, hand pollinating just does not work. Ear wigs feed on tender corn silks and heavy infestations can reduce pollination of corn. Though the corn silks continue to grow and remain receptive to pollen for around a week, heavy, constant feeding damages them enough that pollination is not achieved. Ear wigs are nocturnal and if you have an infestation you can go out with a headlamp to find you precious developing ears to be covered in ear wigs. During the day they hide in the folds of leaves or burrow into the soil.
At first I naively thought that earwig would be prevented access to corn silks when shoot bags for hand pollination were placed over them. I was wrong, and no matter how tightly you wrap the shoot bags to cover the developing ears, they will not exclude ear wigs. In fact, infestations will worsen as the ear wigs now have a secure place to feed which also provides them daytime hiding. Because I have not figured out a solution to this, I no longer hand pollinate my corn only grow one variety for seed. Oh well, it was another chore I didn't need anyway.