Congressman Jeff Fortenberry contends detasseling has been an integral part of building Nebraska’s strong work ethic.
And Fortenberry, a father of five, has more than a passing interest in corn detasseling.
Fortenberry praises the work of teen-agers in Nebraska corn fields this time of year.
“Thousands of Nebraska young people pour into the fields at an unseemly hour in the morning, when it’s cold and wet, and they work so hard all the day long until its blistering hot, fighting off insects and corn rashes and they do so willingly, morning after morning, during this period of time in the summer and it’s this early, early lesson between effort and reward that I think is such a part of the character and values of our community,” Fortenberry tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate WJAG.
We don’t husk corn much, anymore. Combines do the work now.
But, automation cannot pluck the tassel to make seed corn. It must be done by hand. And, to do that, corn seed companies rely on young workers to go into the fields and do their dirty work, literally.
Fortenberry notes detasseling is one job that defies automation.
“I have five daughters, two of them are in the fields right now, as we speak, doing that work and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Paul Hughes, WJAG, contributed to this report.