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!


  1. That's very interesting...learn something every day. I had no idea that job existed. My first job was babysitting for fifty cents an hour too. Wonder what they get today?

  1. My first job was babysitting too. I did berry pick, for one day. I would not be able to stand the heat out there in the cornfields, especially with all the long protective clothing on.

  1. Amy said...:

    I grew up on a farm but never heard of that! My family froze our corn last night for the winter, though - I love that job, especially when everyone helps!

  1. That is hard work but you know what? These kids are better off for it. Out country is becoming so soft it is crazy. Our oldest was our gardener for 6 years until now when she is working 3 jobs this summer, and most of her friends, I'd say 90% including the boys had never mowed a lawn in their lives. Never did any gardening. Families all have gardeners here. Insane. Now my hubby is teaching the next girl to take over.

  1. Barbara said...:

    Yes very interesting,. I did know what detasseling was, I am from Michigan, I am in Georgia now since 1997, coming via Florida, moved there in 1970, I do love Florida ♥

  1. Oh I love little slices of regional life. We are one big continent but we forget the treasures of local life sometimes. This was great to learn about, and I love learning about what it takes to produce the food we eat. we take SO much of it for granted today. Thanks for sharing!

  1. Gail -- I grew up in corn country (had corn fields right next to our home) but I haven't heard of this. My brothers did something for the corn company, but I don't think it was that. Sounds like a great job for a 13 year-old as many jobs are not available to them. Joni

  1. Dani said...:

    my husband who grew up in Iowa, remembers detasseling with a certain amount of fondness..he worked as soon as he did our boys who are now 20 and 23...mowing lawns, collecting cans, doing odd jobs from an early age...they both have jobs now...teaching a good work ethic should be part of a good parents job...I baby sat starting at age 12 and saved up my money for school clothes....last two years of high school, I worked for a single mom watching her kids every work day...a somewhat nanny, I guess.....

  1. farmlady said...:

    I had no idea that kids worked this hard at anything anymore. This is refreshing information... and I learned something about corn.
    Interesting post....

  1. We don't see detasseling here. What a great and informative post!

  1. Shug said...:

    this is very interesting...never have I heard of this before....

  1. Cathy said...:

    Wow, I had no idea... That's a great job for teenagers. When I was that age we all picked berries but kids under 16 can't to that any more. Crazy world.

  1. acorn hollow said...:

    I have never heard of this either it is like raking blueberries in maine. young people take to the fields in the hot sun to rake the berries off from the bushes.
    Baby sitting was my first job and I got 50 cents too but I was so happy with my summer job.

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