Farm And Agriculture News: Reflecting On Detasseling Season

What Is Detasseling, Anyway?


Here’s some farm and agriculture news for the newcomers to the tradition of detasseling. What is detasseling? It’s is when a machine or person removes the tassel, or pollen producing part of the corn plant. Some farms opt for a machine to cut off the tassels, whereas some choose to hire help to detassel. This help is traditionally a summer job for local teens. We’ll get to that part in a minute!


What Is A Pull?


A pull refers to a session of literally pulling off the tassels. Depending on the number and maturity of the tassels will depend on how many pulls a season has. Why have more than one pull? Because it’s important not to let the tassel mature. Scroll down, and we’ll explain!


Why Detassel In The First Place?


In short, detasseling controls pollination. The tassel is removed when it’s immature, so pollination can’t happen on its own. This way, farmers can control pollination to either hybridize a crop of corn or to preserve the integrity of a specific hybrid or heirloom variety. With so many proprietary strains of corn out there, it also guards against unintentional cross-pollination. 


The Tradition Of Detasseling


The start of detasseling season varies depending on that year’s growing conditions, on the state, and on the area of the country where you live. Farms often have detasseling programs that specifically hire kids over the summer. Here in Iowa, it’s a rite of passage and often our first paying job. Earning your first paycheck is a special moment in a kid’s life, because for the first time, it’s your money and yours alone. It also gives urban kids a chance to learn about how our agricultural system works.


Kids Have Mixed Feelings About It


Here’s the big farm and agricultural news on detasseling: The jury is divided on whether it’s a great first job or not. Some kids enjoy being out in the sunshine earning money with their school friends. We’ve already mentioned the appeal of that first real paycheck. Many kids’ immediate reaction to a full workday out in the fields is “No, thank you.” Some are there because they were strongly persuaded by mom and dad. But most of the kids who “graduated” from a detasseling job or program agree that they learned valuable skills that they would take with them forever. 


Tell Farm2Ranch About Your Experience


Was detasseling your first job? Were you part of a detasseling youth program? How did you feel about your first paycheck? Farm2Ranch’s farm and agricultural news and events want to know about your experiences with your first detasseling job in the comment section below.

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