Grain yield in maize is the result of a genotype’s response to environmental conditions and agronomic management. However, whether in a field, greenhouse, or growth chamber, plant-to-plant variation exists within the same genotype, necessitating large amounts of plants and growth area to determine a metabolic response to a change in growth conditions or fertilizer supply. Additionally, because of whole-plant interactions in the supply of nutrients to kernels, it is difficult to study assimilate or temperature effects on the growth of kernels. The in vitro growth of kernels is one way to circumvent this problem because it allows for kernel growth under defined conditions of nutrient supply, while minimizing environmental and maternal influences. The in vitro kernel culturing method can be used to identify source: sink relationships, assimilate transport, metabolism, plant growth regulators, and other physiological responses by altering the source supply to individual kernels within an ear, thereby reducing or controlling environmental effects, while maintaining kernel-cob and organ-wide interactions. A single control-pollinated immature maize ear can be divided and quickly subjected to various growth conditions using liquid media to more precisely generate physiological and metabolic changes in the earshoot than in planta.