Several weeks ago I posted to SANET describing an article on the history,
science, and political economy of hybrid corn.
The citation is as follows:
Lewontin, R. C. and J. Berlan. (1990) The political economy of
agricultural research: the case of hybrid corn. In Carroll, C.
R., Vandermeer, J. H. and P. Rosset. (ed.) chapter 23, Agrecology
McGraw-Hill Publishing Co. New York.
I also mentioned that I had seen various references to very high yields of
corn prior to the 20th century.
Emerson, W. D. (1878) History and incidents of indian corn and its
culture. First published by Wrightson & Co, Cincinnati.
Republished in 1973 by Scholarly resources, Inc., Wilmington, DE
This book has a chapter on achieving high yields, which describes many
yields in the range of 100-200 bushels with interesting descriptions of
the specific cultural practices...
I am not trying to promote the idea that no gains have been made by the
last 50 years of greatly increased knowledge of corn genetics and very
intensive breeding corn breeding programs at many universities and private
Rather I think that review of the history of corn
production in this country reveals much about how current unsustainable
models of agricutural production have developed and become very widely
We need greater grounding in agricultural history to understand how the
futures more sustainable agricultural systems can make best use the
incredible agricultural infrastructure that we already have in place.
Soil Quality Research
U of MD
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