Detasseling Season

Thursday, July 21, 2011
I live in Nebraska -- that is a different statement from *I am FROM Nebraska*. I am a transplant -- I've lived here since 2006. I love my adopted state -- I cheer for the Huskers and bleed RED like most native Nebraskans with one HUGE difference. I have never detasseled. The seasons here are autumn, winter, spring, summer AND detasseling!!

Those of you who do not live in the corn belt are asking, *what is detasseling?* According to Wikipedia, Detasseling corn is removing the pollen-producing flowers, the tassel, from the tops of corn plants and placing them on the ground. It is a form of pollination control, employed to cross-breed, or hybridize, two varieties of corn.

That would be the technical answer -- the simple answer is detasseling is a rite-of-passage for young teens in this part of the county....the first job of most. The school buses pick the kids up early and their LONG day begins.

In our area, the detasseling process starts with a machine that uses rollers to roll off the corn tops. Then the detasselers go through the fields and manually take off the portion of tassel that the machine didn't get. Sometimes this is done by walking through the field and in some operations, or when the corn is too tall the detasselers ride through the corn field on a detasseler carrier.

My little friend Meg, age 13, started her first detasseling season this week. Up early, 10-12 hours days in the 100°F heat (humidity driving the heat index to 110°F) trudging thru the mud and *corn rash* a probability -- she says it's worth it -- she has visions of a new trick bike and name-brand clothes -- good luck Meg -- make sure you drink enough water!!

Quite different from my first job -- babysitting for 50 cents an hour!