Timing is the key
A second fact the seed agronomist knows about the male line is that it tends to flower about a week before the female line.
Because the hybrid seed production is done on a large scale, equipment has been engineered to help with this work. Two specialized equipment items are shown:
The cutter will cut off the top of the corn plant. It works kind of like a lawn mower. Some of the longer leaves of the corn plant will be removed with the cutter.
The puller is designed to grab and pull the top of the corn plant stem. The top of the stem will snap off when grabbed by the puller. It is used on taller corn plants after they have had some of their longer leaves cut off.
The tassel will develop inside the growing corn plant and move up through the plant as it grows. The goal is to remove the tassel from the plant before it emerges from the top. The shoot female flower will likewise develop inside the corn plant but will emerge several leaves below the top of the plant. The goal of removing the tassel must not result in the removal or damage of the shoot.
The cutter and puller equipment save manual labor but do not eliminate it. For that reason, a crew of “detasselers” is hired each summer to walk the field and remove the tops of any corn plant that might have been missed by the equipment