Corn Husking Hook with Leather Wristlet
Date: c. 1890
Description: This is a steel, corn husking hook with a leather wristlet. The husk is the leafy outer covering of an ear of corn, and consists of many layers. In the wild this husk protected the cob or seed rack from predators and contained essential layers of silk that catch pollen. Pollen is deposited by the tassel, a long string of silk that grows from the top of ear. For farmers, the husk is inedible and must be removed in order to get to the grain inside. Early farmers used steel hooks like these to remove the husks by hand. The leather was wrapped around the wrist and the steel hook ran along the husk, separating it from the plant. The cob can then be placed in a corn sheller to remove the grain. Today combines are used to pick, husk, and shell corn all in once process. The silky tassel however can present a problem for farmers. Today’s corn has been specially bred and selected to display certain attributes, and if it is not properly pollinated to breed correctly it can result in future ruined crops. Thus many farmers remove the tassel from field corn, partially by machine and partially by hand, so that it will not pollinate naturally, allowing them to control how corn breeds and replicates itself.
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