Detasseling is done across the Midwest in fields of corn that are to become seed for next year’s crop. Detasseling allows farmers to grow more corn, as well as types of corn that are resistant to weather conditions like drought, through a more than 100 year old process called cross pollination which results in a hybrid corn variety.
To grow a hybrid variety, the female corn’s (That’s right – plants have genders too!) tassel is removed so that plant can’t produce the pollen needed to reproduce asexually. Other plants in the area are not detasseled – these are the male plants which will produce pollen for the female plants to make corn with both the male and female’s genetics.
Detasseling requires man power, and from this need comes opportunity for thousands of kids looking to make some summer cash. Early each morning buses of detasseling crews leave from the city bound for rural Nebraska to work for the day.
It’s the crew’s job to complete the detasseling process. Prior to the detasselling crews going through the fields, detasselling machines are used in every field and remove 80-90% of all tassels. The crews then walk the corn fields and remove any tassels left behind.
While the hours may be long, detasseling crews are paid at least minimum wage, get to spend time with their friends and learn values like responsibility, hard work and time management.
-– Kassi Williams is a proud farmer’s daughter raised up on a cow/calf and grain farm.