Preventing Cross Contamination During Planting and Harvest

If you are a farmer considering planting one or more specialty crops, it is important that you take particular care when planting these crops next to one another or near another farmer’s field. This will help to ensure that each specialty crop reaches its full potential.

One of the dangers of planting specialty crops near one another is that they may cross contaminate, impacting each crop’s ability to achieve its full potential. The first way to prevent cross contamination is to work with your neighbors and find out what they are planting. It’s simply a fact of modern farming-no matter what the crop-cross contamination can occur. However, maintaining the integrity of hybrids depends on lessening the likelihood of cross contamination.

Of course, it isn’t just specialty crops that need to be protected from cross contamination. Any crop, specialty or not, produces a higher yield when cross pollination is minimized. One way to do that is to plant seed corn in isolation, taking into consideration things like the direction of prevailing winds during pollination, roadways, creeks, ditches and waterways. It also is a good idea to plant of strip of a different crop around the specialty or primary crop to achieve proper setbacks. Inside the primary crop, plant a male row so that when pollination is taking place the field is flooded with the desired pollen.

Seed cornfields are planted with male and female rows in a particular pattern so that the pollen from the tassels on the male plants can be used to pollinate the silks on the female plants which creates a hybrid seed. De-tasseling silks on female plants is timed so that it occurs when those silks are ready to accept pollen.

Once pollination is finished, male rows need to be destroyed before the kernels on the ear of the corn are viable. This eliminates the threat of volunteer corn sprouting in the field the next year. Doing so will reduce the need for additional herbicide.

Cleanliness is a critical consideration when it comes to the planting and harvesting of seed corn, as well. While planting, planters should be thoroughly cleaned between fields to prevent seeds from one hybrid making its way into another field. The same goes for harvest time. Pickers should be kernel-cleaned and any kernel not on an ear destroyed.

Farmers need to work on their own and communicate with neighboring farmers so that everyone can maintain the integrity of their fields. Otherwise, the integrity of all crops will suffer.