Corn Hybrid Development Takes Detasseling

Although it’s still mid-season for the 2016 corn crop, The Farm Research Center in Garden City, Mo., has already been planning for future crop years. Namely, our staff this week has focused on corn hybrid development work.

A single corn plant yields tassels, which are the male anatomy of the plant, to produce pollen that will fertilize corn ears, which are the female anatomy of the plant. However, yields and other crop characteristics improve when two corn lines cross, meaning that one pollinates the other and creates a new hybrid.

To initiate hybridization, we plant two different corn lines. Then, pollination must be restricted to ensure that a cross occurs between the two lines. Through detasseling, our team has done just that. Removing tassels from one line enables that line to only be pollinated by the second line. This video shows our team detasseling corn at the research center, and in it, Kent Kauffman of BigYield.us shares more details about the process.

For years, detasseling corn has served as a summer job for young people in the Midwest. This story from Modern Farmer profiles a group of teens detasseling corn during summer 2013.

Enjoy a happy and safe holiday!

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