In the production of seed corn, we have different strains of corn that have genetic characteristics of both types of corn; they are planted in the same field to allow cross-pollination, which produces a new variety of corn. We remove the top of the corn plant called the tassels from specific rows, leaving the tassels from the remaining rows to do the pollinating for the entire field. Machines go through the field first to cut and pull the majority of the tassels, but despite this mechanization we still need the helping hand of detasslers to do a final cleanup in the hopes of producing a pure and superior seed that will meet the standards established by the industry. Timing is the key issues when we are detasseling. Detasseling to early can jeopardize yields and waiting too long and we risk self-pollination, which ruins the seed. Scouts watch the field very closely during this time but we are always at the mercy of the weather. One of the ways of trying to beat the heat of summer days is to begin the work day early so that we can complete the day’s work load before it gets too hot! The season usually begins anytime around mid July and lasts between two-three weeks.
Why should I detassel?
- You can work with your friends….and make new ones
- Detasseling doesn’t take up the whole summer can get in some summer camps
- You can earn your own money
- You will learn valuable work skills that you can use the rest of your life!
How do I get to work and when?
We have buses to transport you to and from a central pick-up point. We have drivers who have Certified Commercial Drivers License who will keep your safety first. There will be adult supervisors at all times to assure the well being of all involved.
What do I wear?
Old grubby clothes…and dress in layers. It’s usually wet and cool in the morning but warms up as the day goes on. Field can be muddy so wear shoes that will stay on your feet, like high top tennis shoes. Socks will help prevent blisters, but plan on throwing them away at the end of the season…they will never be the same again! Rain gear or large plastic garbage bags for a homemade poncho and ball cap are popular choices.
What do I need to bring with me?
- Lunch box, loaded with energy-packed goodies. Bring plenty the first day to gauge what you will need on a daily basis.
- Water jug (we provide water at the field and on the bus also)
- Ball cap or visor
- Rain gear (purchase at discount stores and save $$$)
- Safety glasses are provided by the company
- Bug spray
- Gloves are provided by the company
Safety and Detasseling
Always report an illness or injury you have in the field.
Sunburn and scratches from corn leaves are the main nuisance. Long sleeves can help with both of those. Wearing your safety glasses that are provided by the company can help avoid being slapped in the eye with a corn leaf.
If the company applies pesticides to the fields they are required to follow pest procedures for the safety of all employees. Warning signs are placed at all fields that have been sprayed. No one will be allowed to enter the field until it has been cleared.
Weather also plays a role in the safety of our detasselers. We cannot always leave the field and go home if a summer storm occurs. In the event of lightning or down pouring of rain workers will be pulled from the field and sit on the bus to wait out the storm. Workers will be paid for the time spent on the bus.
Expectations of Detasselers:
What does Gangwish Seed Farms, Inc. expect of me?
- To be faithful about my work attendance
- To be respectful of fellow workers and supervisors
- To refrain from the use of profanity or swearing
- When in the field, to work and not horse around
- Never throw anything out of a bus window
- Remain seated in bus seat when bus is in motion
- Help keep bus and field free of lunch litter
- Refrain from throwing mud or tassels (unless Sherry starts it!)
- Use of any tobacco, alcohol, or drug abuse is strictly prohibited …violation of any of above will be cause for immediate termination of job