Corn is a starchy vegetable that is widely consumed all over the world. It originated in Southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago. The kernels of corn are the most commonly consumed parts as they contain the majority of the nutrients.
Depending on where it is grown, the corn may have different colors. It could be eaten raw or consumed in different ways, such as cornflour, cornflakes, etc.
Corn offers many health benefits as it is low in calories yet rich in vitamins and minerals. Therefore, it is a great choice for people wanting to lose weight. It has key antioxidants that improve your eyesight and prevent vision disorders. Furthermore, it has a high content of calcium and strengthens your bones.
With that out of the way, corn detasseling is an important process in corn farming. In this process, tassels are removed from the top of the corn. But why are the corns detasseled?
Does it benefit corn growth? If yes, how to detassel corn? In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about corn detasseling. Let’s delve deeper without any further ado!
Why Do Farmers Detassel Corn?
Here are a few reasons why farmers detassel corn.
Preventing self-pollination is the first and foremost reason why farmers all over the world detassel corn. Any expert farmer will tell you how self-pollination can affect corn, especially if you are looking for cross breeding.
So, the purpose of corn detasseling is to remove the tassels from corn plants before they open up and begin pollinating.
Every corn plant has both male and female parts . Tassel is the male part, whereas silk is the female part of the corn plant.
The wind can cause pollen from the male part to fall on the female parts, causing self-pollination. The silk is simply connected to each of the corn seeds, and the pollen can make its way to the seed.
If left to grow naturally, the corn will pollinate on its own, and you will have the same breed of corn. So, corn detasseling is recommended to prevent the tassel from self-pollinating the silk.
The main purpose of corn detasseling is to create hybrid corn. The hybrid corn has the best traits of both varieties of corn and is better than traditional corn produced by self-pollination. It is drought-tolerant and resists different corn plant diseases better than corn created by self-pollination.
The tassels are removed from female parts of the corn plant before they can self-pollinate. Different strains are mixed, and the tassels are removed. The corn crops are then introduced to a different breed of seeds to produce better offspring.
If you do not detassel corn, the result could be smaller corn plants with inconsistent genetics. When cord detasseling is carried out properly, it ensures hybrid corns with superior genetics.
Apart from that, they also tend to be more immune to corn diseases. This is because they have the best traits of both parent seeds.
- Seed Preparation
Another reason why corn plants are detasseled is that it prepares the seed for the next year. So, not only does it produce better seeds, but it also benefits the plants that are to be grown next year.
The seeds resulting from cross-pollination grow faster. Furthermore, they have also been associated with higher yields. So, if you plant hybrid seeds, they will produce more plants.
And yes, they require less care, and you won’t have to water your plants as frequently. This means that you will achieve more production in less time with minimum care, an absolute win-win for farmers.
As mentioned earlier, the corn plants produced after detasseling have great disease resistance. If you have done some research on corn plants, you’d know that there are many corn diseases that can halt their growth, such as anthracnose leaf blight, grey leaf spot, northern corn leaf blight, etc.
This is a major concern for farmers as they put a lot of energy and time into growing their crops.
So, if you are a farmer who is worried about corn diseases, consider detasseling your corn crops. This way, you will have seeds with better immunity against diseases.
Having said that, it is pertinent to mention that these seeds are not completely immune to diseases and can get affected sometimes.
- Hybrid Corn
Another benefit of corn detasseling is that it results in hybrid seeds. A hybrid seed is a seed formed as a result of cross-pollination and is only possible through detasseling.
All the hybrid seeds produce similar plants. They improve the characteristics of the offspring of corn plants, such as disease resistance. The resulting plants perform better against diseases and pests and are likely to survive.
They grow faster, require less water, and are more immune to diseases. Of course, farmers are all for it. This is why more and more farmers are opting for hybrid corn.
All these reasons make corn detasseling an important process. If you want to improve your seeds’ quality, consider opting for corn detasseling.
How to Detassel Corn?
Corn detasseling was done entirely by hands back in the day. It was an exciting summer activity and was done mostly by students. With the advent of machines, it is now more convenient and efficient. However, the process still requires a hand of a detasseler to ensure thorough detasseling.
The detasseling period usually starts in the second week of July and lasts for 2-3 weeks. It may vary depending on your climate and the time when the corn was planted.
The corn detasseling is a pretty straightforward affair. It is done to facilitate cross-pollination in corn plants. So, you will have to get rid of the tassels to help corn plants achieve cross-pollination.
To detassel the corn plants manually, simply grab the stem of the tassel just above the point where the last leaf at the top connects to the stalk.
Now, bend the stem slightly and break it off to separate it from the plant. Once you have removed it, drop it on the field and repeat the process till you remove tassels from all plants.
Machines can also be used to detassel corn plants. These machines are called pullers, and they move across the fields and chop the top of the plants.
However, since crops have different heights, the machines only remove around 90% of the tassels. To remove the remaining tassels, you will have to go through the field yourself and remove all the tassels you see.
Make sure to wear work gloves while detasseling corn to prevent your hands from getting cut. Moreover, it also ensures a firmer grip on the tassel, and you will be able to remove it easily with minimum effort.
Other safety gear includes a set of safety glasses and a hat to protect your face. And yes, your arms and legs must be properly covered. So, it is recommended to wear a long sleeve shirt and shorts to cover your knees.
The Bottom Line
Corn is a vegetable grown all over the world, thanks to its various health benefits. Corn detasseling is an important step that aids cross-pollination. It produces hybrid seeds with consistent genetics that are more disease resistant. It can be performed manually or using a chopper machine.