Each new crop year begins in April with planting season. Hybrid selection and mapping of each farm acre occurs well before spring planting so production can begin when the soil reaches the optimal temperature in the spring. Timeline for planting is extremely important because seed corn must be harvested before the temperature drops to a killing freeze of 28 degrees for 2 hours in the fall. The timing of planting and the timing of harvest are crucial factors for seed corn production.
June and July are busy months monitoring the seed corn fields, for rogues, irrigating the crop and tending to insect and weed control. There are many quality control issues in seed corn production. One such issue is during roguing season in June. A rogue is an outcross or volunteer corn plant that may emerge in the field that is not of the same genetic makeup of what was planted in the current year. It doesn’t belong in the field so additional staff is hired to walk the seed corn fields and cut out the rogues so they do not contaminate the seed corn variety of that field. Careful monitoring of plant growth and roguing each field of hybrid seed corn will help ensure that the seed harvested and bagged for the customer will meet our standards for each particular hybrid.
Hybrid seed corn is the product of crossing two unrelated parent seed lines to produce a higher quality superior hybrid seed variety. One parent seed is designated as the male and one as the female plant. Each corn plant has pollen in the tassel. The pollen from only one of the parent seeds is used to produce the hybrid seed. The tassel on the female plant is removed by machines and manually by field workers.
Dedicated to high standards of quality seed, Cloverleaf Farms uses cutting and pulling machines. And typically, Cloverleaf cuts the tassels twice and uses roller pullers once, followed by crews that pull the final 15% to 20% of the tassels that could be missed by the machines. Strict attention to spotting late emerging tassels in a field may require staff or machines to go through the field to eliminate any late bloomers.
Detasseling is another form of quality control and is pertinent to the high quality end product of seed corn production.
The timing for seed corn harvest is crucial to seed corn production. The start date for harvest is determined by the moisture content of the seed kernel. Once the moisture requirement is met, harvest begins and there is an urgency to get all of the seed harvested before a killing freeze of 28 degrees for two hours, as that affects the seed germination.
Seed corn is harvested on the ear by corn pickers and trucked to the Cloverleaf seed corn dryers. Upon arrival, each load of corn passes through another level of quality control. The ears of seed corn travel along rubber conveyor belts, and any non-conforming ears are sorted and discarded before the final product goes into one of the two 15,000 bushel natural gas seed corn dryers. The corn is dried on the ear to protect the seed kernels. The ear corn, dried to 11 ½% moisture, is then shelled in a gentle roller cage sheller and moved to bin storage awaiting conditioning.
Seed Corn Conditioning, Bagging & Warehouse Storage
Seed corn is conditioned and bagged at the Cloverleaf Farms conditioning facility with a state-of-the-art bagging system and robotic bag stacker.
In addition to seed corn production and seed corn conditioning, Cloverleaf Farms has warehouse storage available for bagged retail seed. The warehouse, located at the Cloverleaf seed plant, is easily accessible by truckers on an asphalt road. Renovated in 2015 to improve the docks and increase the storage capacity to 36,000 sq. ft., the warehouse has ample concrete parking to accommodate delivery and distribution from the loading docks.