I recommend that a quick perusal of county/state corn yield competition
results from the 19th century might be shocking and perhaps enlightening
for some of the readers of SANET... believe it or not many of the winners
contests are credited with yields of well over 200 bushels per acre ..
same page of an agricultural bulletin one can read that the county yield
average was 20.2 bushels but the winner of the county yield contest grew
262 bushels... I think I actually recall a couple pre 20th century yields
that were were in excess of 300 bushels...
I can only imagine how much manure was applied to these contest fields...
I occasionally peruse the results of current yield contests and they don't
look very different to me... I don't know how the contests were supervised
a century ago or even how such a contest is supervised today...
Perhaps someone can comment on this...
In a large compendium of Agroecology articles... perhaps in a book by that
title which came out about a decade ago, there was a chapter that
discussed in detail the history, politics, economics, genetics...etc...
of open-pollination vs. hybridization as a strategy for corn breeding...
I have a copy of this chapter tucked away somewhere in my files and I
am also sure that I could find it
again in the library... an interesting aspect of the chapter is
it weighs the public benefit of the millions of public dollars that
have been spent on the corn hybridization trajectory of research...
I don't think anyone would debate that we have embarked on this
corn hybridization trajectory
whole-hog and have hardly stopped to look back... the chapter suggests
that there are other analagous research trajectories that need some
Perhaps if Kruschev had never visited Iowa, the USSR would have taken a
different research trajectory with respect to corn breeding...
I once read a very interesting article about how the Soviet technology
used in their satellites was (perhaps still is) fundamentally different
then the US approach...
I think that we can all agree that research trajectories are not
objective... I long for the day when I will have the time to investigate
more thoroughly the research trajectory that has gotten US agriculture to
where it is today... this is an aspect of agriculture that I have not
found to be covered seriously in any Agricultural curriculum but that I
to teach someday...
My understanding is that rather than yield gains from heterosis, the more
significant result of the hybridization paradigm is the extremely high
uniformity of todays corn... which results not from hybridization but from
the many generations of
inbreeding prior to hybridization...
Heterosis is our ace in the hole that allows the vigor lost in our quest
for uniformity (of a naturally highly heterozygous species) to be
U of MD
Soil Quality Research
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