The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local Business

August 10, 2009

Area students detasseling corn

By Ken de la Bastide

CNHI News Service

TIPTON — Along a narrow county road surrounded on both sides by acres of corn, there is a flurry of activity as a number of carriers, each transporting 12 high school students, emerge.

Starting at 7 a.m., the teenagers don rain coats, protective eye wear, gloves and long-sleeve shirts to continue a Midwest tradition -- detasseling corn.

With one pass through the field that seems to stretch for miles, the teens are soaked. Later in the day, as the summer sun reaches its zenith in the sky, the morning dew will be replaced by beads of sweat.

Steve Strakis, assistant manager for Pioneer Seeds in Tipton, said the company will hire as many as 750 students to detassel the seed corn this year at more than $8 per hour.

Savannah Duchateau, 14, Greentown, is in her second year of detasseling corn and is saving the money for insurance on a car.

“My mom detasseled and (her parents) didn’t think I could do it,” she said of how she got started. “I wanted to prove them wrong.”

Duchateau admitted after her experiences last year, she didn’t intend to return this year, but a cousin talked her into another year.

“It’s really itchy,” she said of the corn.

Getting up at 5 a.m., Duchateau said there are no late nights during the work week.

“They should do it,” she advised other young people of doing the work. “It’s really worth it.”

Jimmy Evans, 15, Greentown, is working his first year as a crew leader and is in his third year with Pioneer.

“I make sure they get all the tassels,” he said of his job, “and make sure no one is playing around and throwing the tassels at each other.”

A part of Evans’ job, which he admitted is better, is to drive the carriers.

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