A Midwest summertime tradition is in full swing: corn detasseling. Every summer, seed corn companies hire thousands of seasonal workers to remove the top of the corn plant to produce hybrid varieties. The minimum age in Iowa to do the work is 14. Those as young as 12 can detassel in Illinois and Nebraska. Many crew leaders who started in their teens are now in their 50s and 60s. Workers say even though it's often hot in the cornfield and the work is tedious, they return year after year because they are paid good money by the companies.
The wet spring has delayed the growth of corn used for seed by Iowa companies including the largest, DuPont Pioneer. That, in turn, has pushed back the schedule of hundreds of part time workers who make money in the fields by removing the top of the plant known as the tassel. Production manager for the Reinbeck facility, Colby Entriken says ,"we're hoping to start pulling tassels next week which is about a week behind schedule.