Corn Detasseling Season is Upon Us

Detasseling -1- Owen Bishop
Owen Bishop in the corn field where he is to begin detasseling.

By Brian Freiberger

Looking for a summer job lasting two to three weeks? Detasseling corn could be an opportunity to make some quick summer cash for young people 13 and older.
All that is needed is a field of corn before harvest, strong hands, work gloves and a positive work ethic.

Several agricultural companies in the Schoolcraft, Vicksburg area start detasseling from July 4 until the end of July or early August. The labor-intensive job is unique to this area because it produces the most seed corn in the state, according to Tiffany Nemire, owner of Nemire’s Detasseling.

The company has been in business for more than 35 years in southwest Michigan. Nemire’s hires local kids and adults to work up to eight hours a day during the three-week season. “I warn the kids that some days are good and others are bad, but to stick it out so you can experience all of it,” said Nemire.

Detasseling is used to create a hybrid from two varieties of corn. Removing the tassel, the source of pollen, from one variety permits pollen from the second variety, planted in an alternate row, to pollinate the detasseled plant. The result is a hybrid bug-resistant, superior seed, according to Nemire.

The tassel on top of the cornstalk is easy to remove. The worker grasps the stem connected to the last leaf, twists slightly until it snaps then pulls it up and throws it on the ground.

Aislyn Shannan, a sophomore at Schoolcraft High School has been detasseling for the past three years. “I wake up at 5:50, then travel roughly 30 minutes to work in a corn field. You never know how long the days are going to be,” said Shannon.

Although detasseling can be a strenuous job, Shannon says it compensates well, “I think it’s cool. After a few weeks, you get a lot of money.” Shannon said she earns roughly $1,000 during the detasseling season.

“This really taught me that you have to work hard in life and that working hard pays off,” said Shannon.

Owen Bishop, 13, of Vicksburg, is a first-time detasseler starting this summer. Bishop has two older brothers who have detasseled before; he recognizes it isn’t easy work but rather an opportunity to do something new. “it’s a chance to meet new people outside of Vicksburg, and to make a lot of money. Kids my age can’t get a lot of jobs when they are younger,” said Bishop.

Holly Bishop, Owen’s mother, said, “It’s taught them to follow through and to finish what they’ve started. It will also look good on a resume for other jobs and on college applications in the future.”

For more information about detasseling, contact Nemires at nemiresdetassleing@gmail.com.

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