Stine Seed – seed nerds at their best

In this interview with Myron Stine, the discussion spans various aspects of agricultural breeding, family legacy, and industry challenges. Myron explains how his father, Harry Stine, initiated their seed breeding program in the late 1960s, initially concentrating on soybeans. The program stood out due to its innovative approach prioritizing yield and standability. The importance of efficient breeding practices and probability in their program is highlighted, along with his father’s expertise in these areas. The concept of “yield drag” and its relevance, particularly concerning Roundup Ready soybeans, is explored.

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Myron draws parallels between traditional breeding and genetic modification (GMO), emphasizing how both methods manipulate genetic material to attain desired crop traits, although breeding might require more time to achieve results. The conversation touches on the challenges faced in conveying the benefits of GMOs and the significance of comprehending agricultural terminology. Myron suggests that some misconceptions exist about GMOs and organic farming, referencing the book “Food 5.0” by Rob Saik as a resource for deeper exploration.

The emotional connection of farmers to crops, particularly corn and soybeans, is examined, with corn often evoking stronger farmer attachments. The legacy of Harry Stine, Myron’s father, in soybean breeding and agriculture is acknowledged, highlighting his innovative methods that influenced high-yielding soybean varieties. Collaborations with companies like Monsanto (now Bayer) and international breeding experiments are discussed as contributors to advancing soybean breeding.

Moving to corn breeding, Myron shares that it began at Stine Seed Company in the early 1970s after success with soybeans in the previous decade. He mentions competitors in the industry, such as Pioneer and Dekalb Pfizer, during that era. Myron underscores the importance of intellectual property protection in breeding and their pioneering role in patenting genetics.

The conversation further explores the benefits of shorter corn varieties, their resilience to events like derechos, and the role of population density and input management in maximizing yield potential. The challenge of marketing their brand, primarily relying on product performance, is acknowledged.

Myron briefly traces his journey within Stine Seed, from being a salesperson to becoming the company’s president. Potential challenges for farmers, particularly commodity price fluctuations and the need for new herbicide technologies to combat weed resistance, are mentioned.

The interview concludes with a light-hearted reference to potential future podcast topics, including cars and politics. Myron’s insights provide a comprehensive view of agricultural breeding, the intricacies of conveying agricultural practices to the public, and the enduring legacy of the Stine family in the industry.

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