An Iowa based seed-corn company is looking at a new corn variety that will do away with what was once a rite of passage for Iowa teens, and a way for adults to make some extra money in the summer. Pioneer seed company chairman Dean Ostreich told lawmakers this week the company has a new variety that will not require detasseling.
Detasseling is the process where workers walk the corn rows and remove the tassels from the female plants. Ostreich says the new variety’s female plant will have no pollen. He says that allows them to get the natural hybridization without having to remove the tops or tassels from the female plants.
Ostereich says it has increasingly become tougher to find enough people to do the hard manual labor that used to be required to create the hybrid seed. Ostereich says they hire some 30,000 part-time workers to do the detasseling across the U.S. In Iowa he says the work is done in July in the hot weather and difficult conditions.
Pioneer awaits regulatory approval for the new variety, but they expect sales to begin next year and detasseling will likely be phased out over five years. Ostereich says as far as he knows, they are the only company with this technology that can be used in all seed corn production. He says they will be looking at licensing the technology to others.
Ostereich says he’s confident of regulatory approval for the new variety which he says will have fewer impurities and higher yields since the entire plant will remain intact. The company holds about a third of the market share for seed corn.