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Henry Agard Wallace, The Iowa Corn Yield Tests, And The Adoption Of Hybrid Corn

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  • Richard C. Sutch

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of California Riverside)

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    Abstract

    This research report makes the following claims: 1] There was not an unambiguous economic advantage of hybrid corn over the open-pollinated varieties in 1936. 2] The early adoption of hybrid corn before 1937 can be better explained by a sustained propaganda campaign conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the direction of the Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Agard Wallace. The Department's campaign echoed that of the commercial seed companies. The most prominent hybrid seed company, Pioneer Hi-Bred Company, was founded by Wallace and he retained a financial interest while serving as Secretary. 3] The early adopters of hybrid seed were followed by later adopters as a consequence of the droughts of 1934 and especially 1936. The eventual improvement of yields as newer varieties were introduced explains the continuation and acceleration of the process.

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    File URL: http://econ.ucr.edu/papers/papers08/08-07.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2008
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by University of California at Riverside, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 200807.

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    Length: 38 pages
    Date of creation: Jun 2008
    Date of revision: Jun 2008
    Handle: RePEc:ucr:wpaper:200807

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    1. Olmstead, Alan L. & Rhode, Paul W., 2001. "Reshaping The Landscape: The Impact And Diffusion Of The Tractor In American Agriculture, 1910 1960," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 61(03), pages 663-698, September.
    2. Alan L. Olmstead & Paul W. Rhode, 2002. "Hog Round Marketing, Seed Quality, and Government Policy: Institutional Change in U.S. Cotton Production, 1920-60," ICER Working Papers 37-2002, ICER - International Centre for Economic Research.
    3. Zvi Griliches, 1958. "Research Costs and Social Returns: Hybrid Corn and Related Innovations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 419.
    4. Olmstead,Alan L. & Rhode,Paul W., 2008. "Creating Abundance," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521673877, December.
    5. repec:cup:jechis:v:61:y:2002:i:03:p:663-698_03 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Knudson, Mary K. & Ruttan, Vernon W., 1988. "Research and Development of a Biological Innovation: Commercial Hybrid Wheat," Food Research Institute Studies, Stanford University, Food Research Institute, issue 01.
    7. Arthur Diamond, 2004. "Zvi Griliches's contributions to the economics of technology and growth," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 13(4), pages 365-397.
    8. Lucier, Gary & Chesley, Agnes & Ahearn, Mary Clare, 1986. "Farm Income Data: A Historical Perspective," Statistical Bulletin 154593, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
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    Cited by:
    1. Alston, Julian M. & Pardey, Philip G. & Ruttan, Vernon W., 2008. "Research Lags Revisited: Concepts and Evidence from U.S. Agriculture," Staff Papers 50091, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    2. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 2009. "Adoption Curves and Social Interactions," NBER Working Papers 15065, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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