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Research Bulletin (Iowa Agriculture and Home Economics Experiment Station)

Abstract

The development and diffusion of hybrid corn is already an epic in the history of scientific agriculture. Emerging from the experimental stages about 1927, this new seed was in practically universal use among Iowa farmers a little over 10 rears later. Compared with many other scientifically approved practices its acceptance has been extremely rapid and complete. As in most instances of cultural or technological change, individuals varied in the date at which they took up the new technique. Although surprisingly rapid in its over-all diffusion, hybrid seed was in use by some Iowa farmers a full 10 years or more before being used by other farmers.

For the student of cultural change, a striking problem lies in the remarkable success of this diffusion. Equally challenging is the problem of why some farm operators turned to the new seed very quickly while others delayed such action. In its broadest implications the latter is an inquiry into the nature of technological conservatism and its antithesis. This study is related to both these issues. An attempt is made to describe the cultural conditions under which this new technique rose to phenomenal success, and to ascertain, if possible, conditions under which farm operators in two Corn Belt communities in central Iowa accepted readily or resisted the innovation.

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