Detasseling – A very common practice this time of year in the Midwest. I am surprised by the number of people who have no idea what the process entails or why it is needed. For that reason, I thought it it would be a good idea to review this practice.
Detasseling corn is removing the pollen-producing flowers, the tassel, from the tops of corn (maize) plants and placing them on the ground. It is a form of pollination control, employed to cross-breed, or hybridize, two varieties of corn.
Fields of corn that will be detasseled are planted with two varieties of corn. Removing the tassels from all the plants of one variety leaves the grain that is growing on those plants to be fertilized by the tassels of the other resulting in a hybrid. In addition to being more physically uniform, hybrid corn produces dramatically higher yields than corn produced by open pollination. With modern seed corn the varieties to hybridize are carefully selected so that the new variety will exhibit specific traits found in the parent plants. The detasseling process usually involves the use of both specialized machines and human labor. Source Detasseling -Wikipedia
Check out this video. It gives a good perspective of the processes involved with detasseling. The video and entry above stress the need for 99.5% of the tassels to be removed for uniformity of seed. I wasn’t aware of that figure. It’s quite a process and well worth knowing a little more about for those of us who live in the city.
Post written by @midwestlabs