About “Beyond the Rows”

Beyond the Rows is a Monsanto Company blog focused on one of the world’s most important industries, agriculture. Monsanto employees write about Monsanto’s business, the agriculture industry, and the farmer.
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A Quick Lesson in Detasseling

Detasseling allows one line of corn to fertilize the other, producing a high-yielding hybrid, and prevents the plants from self-pollinating and ruining the hybrid line.If you’re a farmer or farm kid, you know what detasseling is.

If you’re not, this video courtesy of reporter Mike Brooks at WICS in Springfield, Ill., gives you a good background on detasseling and why seed companies like Monsanto do it.

Detasseling Corn Alive and Well – Fox 55/27 Springfield, ILL

This Twitter search stream gives you a bit more, um, color, about what detasselers are saying this summer.

I was at the corn field while Mike was interviewing Monsanto employees and the workers. The detasseling is quite impressive. I’m not certain I could handle a whole month of detasseling, let alone a week.

A machine trimmed the tassels the previous day. Then, the next day a group of 20 or so workers walk down a half-mile row of corn and picks out the tassels missed by the machine. Then the crews turn down the next row and do it again. They cover the mile in about 45-50 minutes.

And as you may have noticed in the video, the crew is wearing long-sleeve shirts, pants, gloves, glasses and hats with safety nets on the front. In 90-degree heat. And 80 percent humidity. Water breaks are frequent.

The attire is necessary for safety reasons. Corn leaves have sharp edges and can give you a paper-cut-like scrape. Monsanto has a nurse at each of our facilities to provide training and support Monsanto’s personnel that are on site at each detasseling field, in case there is an emergency.

Thanks to all of the crews across the Corn Belt that are helping seed companies like Monsanto produce the best seed for the 2011 crop year!

Do you have a detasseling memory or story to share?

Recent Detassling Stories:

Summer Jobs: A lesson in Corn Detasseling – NPR

Iowa’s Corn Crop Too Tall for Some Teens to Detassel – Des Moines Register

4 Responses to "A Quick Lesson in Detasseling"

  1. I interned with Monsanto at the Constantine facility as a seed production intern during the summer of 2005. The hard work of dedication of the crews I worked with was Amazing! Ill never forget it!

  2. I am 14 and I detasseled for the first time this year in North East Iowa. OH MY GOSH, I didn’t think I would make it! But, I was told I did well for a “first year,” and got a bonus from my contractor for the good work. I lasted all 21 days and am enjoying the benefits of having some extra money in my pocket!


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