How is Corn Detasseling done?

In April and May the planting is all done for the fields that are to be detasseled later in July.  These fields are planted in the pattern of one row of male corn followed by four female rows and so on through out the field.  Normally, depending on the variety, the male is planted first then a few days later the female is planted.  This is done to ensure proper timing of the male shedding pollen at the right time the female silk is ready.
As time goes by you can see a distinct difference in the field and it is easy to see which rows are male, the taller plants, and which ones are the female plants.
When it gets to about a week before the field is ready to be detasseled a machine called a cutter goes through and cuts the top 2 to 5 inches off all the female plants.  This will allow the actual tassel to grow up above the corn stalk and above the remaining leaves.  This process is used before a machine called a puller goes through.  The picture at the right shows a cutter that cuts 6 female rows at a time, the rows with a "F" are female, the other ones, "M", are male. 
This picture shows the cutter up a bit closer.  Some cutters are able to cut 12 female rows at a time.
This is what the field looks like after the cutter has gone through and a few days have passed.  You can see down the female rows that the remaining part of the tassel is starting to stick out.  You can also see that the male rows have been left uncut.
This is a puller going through the field and pulling out as many of the female tassels as possible.  This puller can do 12 female rows at a time.  The pullers will get anywhere from 40% to 85% of the female tassels, which is not good enough for a field to pass.  For a field to pass 99.7% of the female tassels must be removed.  After the pullers go through the field then it is our job as detasselers to finish the job and pull out the remaining tassels by hand.
If the corn is a short variety this work will be done on foot, where each worker is given a female row to follow and pull out the tassels left behind after the puller.  If the corn is a taller variety then the workers will ride on these machines, or tractors, which are used to raise the worker to a higher height so that the corn plant is not above their head.
These tractors hold 12 workers, one for each female row, a driver and a crew leader.  Each tractor has 6 buckets that hold two workers each.  The buckets can then be manually raised or lowered depending on the corn height.  All the workers gear is also kept on the tractor or tied to it in some fashion.
After the field has been completed and has 99.5% of the tassels removed then it is considered done.  After the pollination process is done and before the actual corn is harvested, another tractor, also a type of cutter, will go through each field and cut down all the male corn.  Only the female corn is harvested, the male is just used to pollinate the female.

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