Date of Award
Master of Arts
To illustrate how early researchers established the foundation for today's hybrid corn seed industry. Initially the foundation was built upon individuals, then later via tax-supported institutions, and then ultimately by the private commercial sector. Most early academic studies have independent accounts of corn's origins. For example, distinguished academician, Paul C. Mangelsdorf, has compiled extensive data concerning the ancestry of corn. The purely scientific aspects of maize breeding and genetics were researched within university settings. However, businessmen, such as the esteemed statesman, Henry A. Wallace, have authored more modern-day hybrid com history. Few of the previous investigators have reorganized the contributions of the first historic scientific discoveries (farm experiments) or linked them to the status of modern research (gene manipulation). Furthermore, few published works have explored the background information required for successful multi-disciplined approaches to the academics of agriculture, business, and history. This work provides recognition of the accomplishments of early researchers (chapter 2), combined with the life cycle of corn (chapter 3), its anatomy (chapter 4), and is a basis for a better appreciation of the challenges modern breeders face today (chapter 5). Agricultural historians traditionally have overlooked the critical relationships and associations between business and agriculture. In the same way, business historians have been reluctant to examine the origins and development of agricultural practices. These shortcomings exist in both the United States and abroad. Each discipline seems to fear to cross the boundary into another's territory or field of expertise. Agriculture historians intuitively tend to align with sociologists and economists and attribute agricultural practices to cultural, social, legislative, and political influences. Historically, the role of business in agriculture has been underrepresented. The practical applications and learned experiences of "simple discoveries" have often had tremendous business implications. The triangular relationship between agriculture, business, and historical research has rarely been analyzed. The scholarly bias of agricultural historians tends to view agriculture business history as a vocational study, which, like academic business studies, suffers from its immediate practical applications and businesslike subjectivity. This paper presents a clearer picture of modern hybrid corn by tying agriculture, business, and history together.
Gregory Scott Bennet
Bennet, Gregory Scott, "American hybrid corn history: a century of yields" (2001). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 21072.