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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How to make money organizing teens to detassel corn

When I was a kid there was one summer I went through the fields and chopped down the weeds in the soybean fields. It was the hardest work I’ve ever done. I can’t imagine I was very effective at it but I think it was a fantastic experience every kid should try to do. Back then, the way to obtain people to work manually in the fields was word of mouth. Maybe someone would post a sign in the bank to try to get a local kid to help out. Other than that, farmers were pretty much out of luck when they tried to find laborers.

Today I was reading about a company in Nebraska called Glock Detasseling (GD). The company is owned and operated by three Glock brothers – Troy, Jason, and Ryan. GD has been around since 1993, and they employ over 400 young people every summer to detassel corn in the fields for the season of approximately 3-4 weeks, working seven days a week during that time period. GD works with the two biggest seed corn companies in the Midwest – Golden Harvest and Hi-Bred International.

So what exactly is detasseling? Their website explains “Detasseling is the act of removing the pollen-producing tassel from a corn plant. Detasseling is done to breed two different varieties of corn. By removing the tassels from all plants of one variety, all the grain growing on those plants will be fertilized by the other variety's tassels. This creates a hybrid of the two varieties. Mechanized detasselers exist, but detasseling by hand is still necessary due to the variation in height of corn plants. Working in the field detasseling is considered a rite of passage throughout Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana.

Workers are picked up and dropped off at the same time, and work together in teams. There are crews in several towns, and the supervisors are mostly teachers and principals who have the summers off. Great way to make some extra money during the off season.


Mommy Meryl said...

I hear manual labor is good for the soul. . .

t said...

I remember when we did this, at 6am with those large scythes. For $4/hr which was a fortune at the time!

Jason is now a dentist, I didn't know he had a side business too. Very interesting!