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Old time seed corn
Griffith Seed Co., McNabb, Ill., came up with a special display this year at the Farm Progress Show in Illinois to show how seed corn was sold at the turn of the century - right on the ear.
The company filled a crate with 100 ears of corn which, in the old days, represented 1 bu. of seed corn.
"During the early 1900's a lot of seed corn was sold by the ear," says W. Lynn Griffith, owner. "My grandfather sold seed corn this way. There were no mechanical pickers so all of the corn had to be hand picked. Farmers wanted to know what the ear looked like before they shelled it and used it for seed. Well developed ears were felt more likely to produce a healthy crop. Several companies marketed ear corn seed in those days. They hand picked the best ears and then packed them in crates. One hundred ears was considered to be a bushel, and it weighed about 75 lbs. Customers removed the kernals from both ends of the ear and used the rest for seed so that all kernals would be fairly uniform in size.
`There was a lot of interest in corn improvement in those days, and people really paid attention to the type of ears they bought. County fairs sponsored contests where farmers entered 10-ear samples. The ears had to have good uniformity and be of equal size." Griffith Seed Co. has been in the seed corn business since 1900, although it wasn't officially a company until 1936 when Griffith's father began producing hybrid seed corn.
The ear corn crate is a replica based on a photograph that appeared in an advertisement that Griffith's grandfather placed in a farm magazine. Griffith found the advertisement in a packet full of letters that his grandfather had received in response to the advertisement. The letters were dated 1908. "Most ear corn seed crates were long and narrow, but the one in my grandfather's advertisement was square," notes Griffith.
The crate reads "Griffith Early Dent, 1 Bu. Seed Corn". "Reed's Yellow Dent was a very popular variety throughout the Mid-west, and Griffith Early Dent was an earlier maturing variety derived from it," says Griffith. "My grandfather developed Early Dent because there was a sizable tract of low-lying land in our area that never dried out until later in the spring. The early maturing variety was favored where later planting was a common practice."
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Griffith Seed Co., McNabb, Ill. 61335 (ph 815 882-2161).

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1991 - Volume #15, Issue #6