Kyle Smith has done many things in his life, growing up in Virginia and teaching high school vocational agriculture in Indiana. He’s retired now, but Beck’s Hybrids recently acknowledged his importance to the company by namely a conference room in their newest building, the research building, in his honor.
Smith played a key role in helping Beck’s develop its customer base and increase its product line as the company began its sharp upward growth trend in the 1970’s and 1980’s. He oversaw development of inbreds and field research until Kevin Cavanaugh assumed the position a few years ago.
While he did many of these aforementioned things behind the scenes, perhaps Smith, Swayzee, is best remembered by most Beck’s customers for his work in the Practical Farm Research Plots. Even today, he still gives talks during Beck’s field days on the farm. One employee quips “His is one of the few tours at Becknology Days where we have to send tow wagons at once. We’ve even built a special wagon with added seats to accommodate the crowd wanting to hear Kyle talk about corn.”
Smith played an active role in planning the 300-bushel plot attempt at Beck’s. The company has achieved the goal several times, and has now issued a challenge to customers to reach the goal.
Perhaps he is best known for starting and continuing a long-term, high lime study for corn and soybeans positioned near the 300-bushel plot on Beck’s farm. He loves to talk about the liming study, other employees say. The interesting point is that it has produced results in response to high liming over the years that conventional wisdom can’t always explain.
Personally, I spent many enjoyable days over the years visiting with Kyle and area farmers. His favorite story I remember most has nothing to do with corn breeding. He helped me relieve the golden days of high school basketball. To this day, the tiny town of Swayzee, which had its own school once, holds an Indiana record for playing in the longest high school basketball game in state history. It went nine overtimes. Kyle was a game official at the scorer’s bench. Since he always gets quiet at the end of the story, my assumption is Swayzee finally lost he game, but I could stand to be corrected.Congratulations to Kyle Smith on the new room named in his honor by the company he helped transform.