I understand that some farmers used to cut off the tops of the corn stalks. Why was this done and at what stage of growth? Did they keep the tops? If so, how were they stored and/or used?
Thanks for any help.
If you cutting off the tassels, It is done to control crossbreeding. As far as I know it is only done by farmers growing hybrid corn for seed. The varieties to be crossbred are planted in alternate strips and the variety from which the seed is to be saved is topped so that it can only be pollinated by the other variety.
There was another use farmerdilla. It was based on the concept that the upper leaves were not necessary to mature an ear of corn. They would go through the corn after it had pollinated and cut off the tops above the ear. The tops were then fed to cows. You can read about this in articles published about 100 years ago. I have records in a couple of books I bought off ebay.
Dar, I don't go back quite that far. In my youth there were many subsistence farmers. They would pull fodder to feed their cows. This was done just after the ears passed through the milk stage. In my my family we cut (with cornknives) the corn when the ears were fully developed but the foliage still green and shocked it in the field to dry. The corn was later shucked out and the fodder fed to the cows. The only actual topping ( removing of the tassels) that I have encountered was for the purpose of growing hybrid seed corn, altho the technique should work also to prevent the detrimental cross pollination of SH2 sweet corns with other types.
some commercial sweetcorn growers top the corn if it is for hand harvest. makes it easier on the harvest crew, less pollen floatig around, can stand up and get fresh air, etc
I did find one paper that indicated the tops were sometimes removed to hasten drying of the grain.
Thanks for all the input.