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Seed company marks 85 years of serving farmers

Devin Stolpa-Zietlow /Getty images Clost up of an ear Field corn
LONG TRADITION: Hoegemeyer Hybrids started out raising and selling hybrid seed corn 85 years ago. Today, the western Corn Belt brand also sells soybean, alfalfa and sorghum seed.
Hoegemeyer, the western Corn Belt regional seed brand for Corteva Agriscience, was founded in 1937.

In 1937, there was something big happening in the seed corn business. H. Chris Hoegemeyer and his son Leonard C., at Hooper, Neb., were among many farmers just beginning to toy with producing hybrid seed corn.

Over the years that followed, Leonard’s life was dedicated to the development of stress-tolerant corn hybrids, providing quality seed to farmers. Leonard’s son, Tom, earned his doctorate from Iowa State University and joined the family company in 1974, eventually building a reputation as one of the most innovative and respected plant breeders in the industry.

The seed corn business became pretty crowded after World War II, with hundreds of seed companies popping up on the Plains and Midwest. Although most of those beloved seed corn company names are gone, Hoegemeyer has been a survivor, and this year, the company is celebrating its 85th anniversary.

A survivor

“There has been tremendous change in ag in the last several decades, and there are a lot fewer seed brands than there were 10 or 20 years ago,” says Hoegemeyer general manager Jeremy Thompson. “There aren’t many seed companies that can claim an 85-year history. The Hoegemeyer way of doing business built on trust and reliability has stood the test of time and continues to thrive.”

In May 2018, Hoegemeyer became a regional seed brand of the western Corn Belt for Corteva Agriscience. The move was part of the company’s multichannel, multibrand strategy that merged other regional companies such as Prairie Brand, NuTech and Curry into the seed family.

Serving seed customers

Steve Casper has been a Hoegemeyer farmer-seed dealer for decades. He says that farmers continue to be brand loyal when it comes to seed. “Some of my customers and I have been planting Hoegemeyer together for more than 40 years,” Casper says. “They are my neighbors and friends, but they continue to use Hoegemeyer seed because of the proven yields and exceptional service they receive.”

Casper finds it satisfying as a dealer to provide quality seed, but also to know that he has a part in the long-term success of his farmer customers. “It’s important to me to know that we’re committed to giving the growers in the western Corn Belt the best seed brand for their fields,” he explains.

Courtesy of HoegemeyerTom Hoegemeyer standing in front of corn stalks

DR. TOM: Considered one of the most innovative plant breeders in the country, Tom Hoegemeyer joined his family’s seed business in 1974. Hoegemeyer retired as CEO of Hoegemeyer Hybrids in 2008, but he continued a career in the University of Nebraska agronomy department as a plant breeder in residence.

Rob Hinrichs, Hildreth, Neb., farms 4,800 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat, and is one of Casper's neighbors and customers. As a Hoegemeyer customer, he believes the company’s longevity and consistent product are the reasons for success. He adds that the service he receives from his seed dealer, Casper, is a big plus for his farm.

“Steve’s farm is right down the road from ours, so he knows what works in our area,” Hinrichs says. “As much as I like the performance I get from Hoegemeyer, I’ve always appreciated that caring neighbor even more than the hybrids themselves.”

Field day recollections

In fact, Hinrichs recalls the first Hoegemeyer field day he attended as a youngster. “My father planted Hoegemeyer. My grandfather planted Hoegemeyer,” he says. “I was in elementary school, and my dad took me to a Hoegemeyer field day. I listened to ‘Dr. Tom’ (Hoegemeyer) speak, and I’d sit there and soak it in.”

The brand has a history, but Thompson is looking to the future. “Our product performance, as well as future pipeline of products and traits, has never been stronger,” he says. “Additionally, we have industry-leading precision and digital resources we offer our customers to support their farm management and decision-making for their operations.”

Courtey of Hoegemeyera field day from the late 1980s

FIELD DAY: This photo from the Hoegemeyer archives shows a field day from the late 1980s or early 1990s.

Thompson says that the Hoegemeyer legacy of 85 years in the seed business is built on products and traits that address challenges of local geography through people who are passionate about agriculture and provide a high level of service to farmer customers. “We believe this approach is key to our 85-year history and will be for many years to come,” he says.

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