Monday, August 19, 2013

Rite of Passage in the Corn Belt

Everyone in Iowa should know what this vehicle does. It is a detasseling carrier where people (usually young teenagers) work for a few weeks in the summer removing tassels of certain rows of corn plants in order to produce seed corn. Crews generally work for contractors or directly for seed companies like Pioneer and Syngenta.

Some people call detasseling a rite of passage for young teens living in the corn belt. Detasseling provides work for teens, usually with their friends where they can earn a good wage for just a few weeks worth of effort. Note the taller corn row with tassels close to the carrier. That row will be the pollen source for the chopped and detassled smaller plants located in the foreground. Looks odd but it works out here in corn country.


  1. This is really interesting. More than 20 years ago, we lived in Hoopeston, Illinois, home of the Hoopesteon-East Lynne Cornjerkers. The mascot was a cob of corn. I still have a sweatshirt from those days, but I rarely wear sweatshirts and certainly couldn't wear that one to school, so it's stick in the closet. I appreciated seeing part of the process and wonder if the kids I knew back int eh day road on these things or if it is a relatively-new invention.

  2. i used to work on one of these ol' things :)