One of my earliest memories until 1946 when I was 7 on the farm near Unionville, Missouri, was of Dad picking corn by hand.
Since the whole process of taking care of the horses or mules, harnessing them each morning, picking the corn by hand, hauling it to the crib and unloading it was a slow-time consuming job, most of the winter months were spent harvesting the corn. Some days the weather was warm and sunny, other days it was cold and snowy!
But regardless of the weather there were several months of hand work to finish the harvest. The corn was picked by grabbing each ear, one at a time, and twisting it off the stock, and throwing it into the wagon. But the ears didn't volunteer to be picked! You first had to strip the shucks off of the ear and while holding the stock of the ear in one hand, twist the ear to break the stock, and then throw it in the wagon. To pick several wagon loads per day this process had to happen in 1 to 2 seconds per ear. To strip the shucks off of the ear, there were several types of hooks or "husking pegs" that were used to strip the shucks off of the ear. The shucking hook below is the very one used by my Dad, Frank Novinger and is still in the Family.
But meanwhile in year 2010 Glen Novinger, who grew up in Missouri and has seen agriculture modernize around the world over the past 6 decades, is now living part time in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, Mexico. And how do they harvest corn in Michoacan? By hand! But the process is not as advanced as it was in Missouri in 1946. In Michoacan today the corn is picked by hand, placed in a gunny sack, and carried out of the field by the farmer on his back. Horses are not yet widely used for farm work in Michoacan today.