Last year I gave growing corn in containers the first try. It went pretty well, and the plants grew up quite nicely. I often hear about the detasseling process from larger corn farms and couldn’t help but ask myself if it’s also necessary for corn grown in a garden.
Do you really need to detassel corn in your garden? Detasseling helps to pollinate corn plants and encourages or prevents cross-pollination. Removing the Tassel isn’t necessary if you only grow a single variety of corn, but it can increase crop resilience and yield.
With that said, let’s get into it!
You Don’t Have To Detassel Garden Corn
Detasseling is only useful if you grow multiple different corn varieties. Rest assured, if you only grow a single variety – you don’t have to touch the tassels of your plants in this case.
Corn undergoes self-pollination, which means every plant can pollinate itself. Keeping the Tassel is useful to determine the time of harvest.
What Is Detasseling
Corn has its male and female parts on the same plant. Tassel is the male part present at the top of the plant, and silk with ears is the female part. The colors of the tassel range from green to yellow or purple.
Farmers remove the Tassel to either prevent or encourage Cross-pollination. Creating Hybrid seeds can encourage beneficial traits in future crops – but they can also produce offspring with unfavorable characteristics.
Why Is Corn Detasseled
Removing the immature pollen and tossing it will help produce hybrid seeds with desirable traits in crop fields. Farmers detassel four rows of female plants and left one male with a tassel on its top. The tassel falls its pollen on female corn silk to grow ears that will produce kernels.
Detasseling corn offers some more advantages;
- Plants are less sensible to drought
- Plants become more disease resistant
- Increase yield
How Is Corn Detasseled
There are two methods of doing it, either by hand/manually or with machines.
Get yourself ready to work manually in fields during the hot summer.
Step 1: Get the Gear ready
First, get some Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) ready. PPE includes a full sleeves shirt, a hat with a net covering your face, sturdy shoes, lightweight gloves to protect your hands from cuts, and eyeglasses.
Step 2: Removing the Tassel
To remove the Tassel, simply grab the colored part and pull it out swiftly. Be careful while pulling, plant leaves can be very sharp, and you might end up hurting yourself (gloves are a must!).
Step 3: Pollination
Flip the tassel in the air for pollination (if wanted) and repeat the process down the row.
Self-propelled machines are used to cut the crop’s top. The puller helps catch the tassel, and the blade cuts it off. This method is more convenient than hand-pulling, especially on large operations.
Detasseling machinery uses detecting sensors that sense the presence of the tassel and catch it. On average, about 80-90% of the tassels are caught and removed by the machine. The rest is usually removed by hand.
Will Corn Continue To Grow After It Tassels
The answer is yes!
The corn plant undergoes different stages, which are as follows.
Stage 1: Fertilization
Fertilization is the first step in corn development. When you see a tassel growing on a corn plant, this means the plant is going to enter its fertilizing stage.
Stage 2: Silking
In this stage, silk or tassel appears from the corn ear. The number of ears varies for each corn variety, and it may be 1-2 ears per plant after the corn seed emerges from the ground, silk forming around 55-66 days later.
At this stage, the corn plant is ready for pollination. For fertilization, the pollen from the top mixed with the silk of the corn ear. By fertilizing, more silk will produce more kernels per ear.
Stage 3: Blistering
Blistering takes place after pollination, the kernel start to form in the ears of the corncob. After 12 days, the silk of the ear becomes dark and dried out. At this stage, the corn cob will be close to its full size.
Stage 4: Milking
At this stage, corn ears are ready to harvest. Around 20 days after silking, milky fluid starts to develop inside the kernels, and they turn a yellow color on the outside. Fully grown seeds have a moisture level of about 80%.
Stage 5: Denting
Denting occurs when corn ears remain on the plant after the milking stage passes. Corn kernels start to convert sugar into starch, and the typical dent in each kernel will become visible. Denting is the drying process of corn on the plant.
It usually happens 36 days after silking.
FAQs–Frequently Asked Questions
To know more about detasseling corn, here are answers to some frequently asked questions.
Why do farmers cut the tassels off corn?
Tassel is the male part of the plant responsible for seed production. Framers cut the tassel off so that plants can pollinate from other plants instead of self-pollination. It’s common practice to only leave a single male row (intact tassel) for a few female rows.
Should you fertilize corn when planting?
Yes, corn likes nutrient-rich soils. The side dressing method works well for row-planted corn.
After sprouting, use fertilizer containing nitrogen and spread it around 6 inches from the cornrow. Water the plants so that it will help nitrogen reach lower to the root system.
Why does corn have side shoots?
Side shoots describe secondary central stalk growing away from the main stalk. It’s usually recommended to remove them as fast as possible. They use up a lot of the plant’s energy and can drastically reduce the plants’ yield.
Sometimes these shoots show when corn is growing in a favorable environment. Other times, it occurred because of an injury like the bite of an insect or damage caused by a human, tractor, or deer. Usually, side shoots did not get enough time to mature as weather changes and kills them. In fact, if they grow mature, then they may increase the yield.