Harry Stine built an obscure $3 billion empire by creating a better soybean seed. Now the richest man in Iowa thinks he has revolutionized corn, the world’s most popular crop. Stine, the 72 year old founder and owner of Stine Seed, the largest private seed company in the world, competes with billion dollar companies such as Monsanto, DuPont and Bayer.
Today, 60% of all soybean acreage in the United States is planted using genetic developments created by Stine. His next venture is to take over the corn production in the U.S. Though competitors scoff at Stine’s mere mention of making a mark in the corn industry, he believes that he could easily double the amount of annual corn yield in the country in no time at all.
The secret to Stine’s revolutionary corn? Efficiency. Stine’s plan involves breeding corn to thrive at a highers planting density – shorter plants with smaller tassels and and more upright leaves that attract more sunlight. Stine’s plan is to create a leaner, more efficient plant that grows faster and takes up less space than current agriculture practices. Although farmers would need significant capital to switch production methods, their profits would make up for the switch in just a few years.
Buying more seeds per acre is expensive, as well as the fertilizer to grow the seeds and the machines needed to harvest the crops just add to the cost. CEO of Summit Group, Bruce Rastetter, a current soybean and corn producer, estimates that companies would need to see at least a 30% yield improvement in order to benefit from Stine’s method.
Although Rastetter doesn’t think the improved method will be adopted quickly, he does see the benefits of switching to Stine’s plan for corn production. He has already revolutionized the agriculture industry twice, and has decades of experience working hands-on in the agriculture business. Harry Stine, the dyslexic farm boy turned cunning negotiator and agriculture aficionado, is clearly on his way to dominating agriculture production in the U.S.