The folowing is from the forward of Huskers Digest.
Husking corn is the act of an individual removing the ears from the
husks. Corn husking is
also called corn shucking or corn picking, depending on the area of the corn belt you are in,
local jargon. In Huskers Digest we are interested only in corn harvesting done by hand:
The word contest has been defined as being a struggle for superiority
between rivals in a
competition in which entrants perform separately, and each rated by judges. So we can say
a corn husking contest involves two or more individuals in competition to see who can
husk the most corn in a given time, and subject to prescribed rules, and prescribed over by
Unrecorded husking contest took place on many farms when the boss would
hired-man to see who could get to the end of the field before the other. Occasionally ,
farmer-neighbors would declare over the fence: "I'll race you to the other end" and the race
would be on! These friendly jousts help to take some of the tedium out of the wrist-hurting,
back-tiring and arm-frazzling job of harvesting the farmers biggest cash crop: corn.
A horse, or mule pulled wagon was at the side of the farmer
to bring the harvested loads
of corn up to the farm storage-building called the crib.
The primary object of the organized corn husking contest was to see
who could husk the
most ear-corn in a given time, from standing rows and thrown into a wagon, with each
load subject to deductions. Therein lies the rub: "subject to deductions."
Deductions were the hallmark of the organized shucking contest. Merely
biggest load of corn did not automatically make it the winning load. But after deductions
were made , the biggest load or the heaviest load was the winner.
Two deductions were made on each contestant's load at the end of the
80 minute contest.
These two deductions were Husk and Gleanings. Gleanings is the marketable ears of corn
(over 3 inches long) left out in the field by a contestant. That included ears missed by the
shucker in his haste (that were left hanging on the stalks) and the ears that missed the wagon
when the contestant overthrew, or underthrew them.
Husks left on the harvested ears took up valuable storage space in the
Therefore it was considered preferable to have "clean" corn , that is, a minimal amount of
husks on each load. Shucks also tended to attract rodents who wanted to make a winter
home in the crib. Rats and mice could eat a sizable amount of corn while "dining in"
through a long winter.
Gleaners were assigned to each contestants to gather the missed ears
(left hanging in the
two rows, or that missed the wagon). The total pounds of gleanings were multiplied by
three and then subtracted from the gross load. Fro instance, if the shucker left nine pounds
of gleanings, then 27 pounds were deducted from his gross load. That amount constituted
his Gleaings "duck". However in the early years of the organized contest, only 2 pounds
were deducted for each pound of gleanings.
The Husk Deduction table is shown later, it being a more complicated
Gleanings. For that table see page 11.