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Editor's Notebook: The Care Factor

July 29, 2011

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PamSmithMy father is famous for promoting what I have dubbed the care factor. When choosing a career, I was urged to work at a profession I could "care about."

The salesmen who wandered down our country lane were held to the same standard. Product performance was crucial, but how much they cared about their wares weighed in the transaction. So did customer service.

Genuine caring remains one trait that cannot be engineered. In this issue, we write about the consolidating forces shaping today’s seed industry. Each tiny seed is now a delivery package for an array of technological advances that help American farmers lead the world in productivity.
What hasn’t changed is what’s at the root of every germinating seed: the effort of many individuals. The scientists and plant breeders who bring you new advances are, in my opinion, the unsung heroes of the seed industry.

During the past year, I headed to the field several times with Fritz Behr, a plant breeder for Wyffels Hybrids, an independent seed firm located in Geneseo, Ill. I quickly realized that the science behind genetic crosses and trait integration is a complex business.

Fritz believes the "perfect" hybrid may not be attainable. However, he and other plant breeders keep working toward that goal because they care about bringing farmers better choices. I find it reassuring to know there’s some art and a personal touch that remain associated with breeding hardier, higher-yielding crops.

Still, there’s no question companies that sell seed also want to remain profitable. Today’s seed salesmen are dynamite marketers.

You get one crack a season at purchasing your most important input. How well you do depends on how much you care about sorting through the options.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - Seed Guide 2011

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