Several Nevada High School students found extra income this past summer by roguing over 960 acres of seed corn for Pioneer Seed.
A rogue seed corn plant is genetically off-type and for the most part, obvious. The plant is taller, the stalk is thicker, with wider leaves. If the off-type is left in the field, distribution of rogue pollen will contaminate the harvested commercial seed. The rate for roguing the seed corn is $7.25 per acre; an energetic 14-year-old can easily cover 120 acres, which equates to $870 of income. If the field has only a few rogues, the return on time in the field can be as high as $30 per hour. Some seed fields can have heavier populations of rogues, and extra time is required. Young people quickly find out they can earn even more if they want to take on more acres. Students sign "contracts" to complete field work, and after that, it is up to them to get the job done.
"It is good for young people to learn how to work in a self-directed endeavor, and especially good if they can earn money" states Kevin Cooper, Nevada High School ag ed instructor and FFA advisor. Another benefit is learning safety; Pioneer DuPont has high expectations regarding safety. Anyone in the fields must have training on potential field hazards, including worker protection safety.
With several thousand acres of seed between Nevada and McCallsburg, there is plenty of opportunity for young people with supervision to get involved. Mr. Cooper has sign-up cards in early spring, or the student can contact the Toledo Pioneer Plant at 1-800-325-8922.