Seed World

Since 1915: The American Lawn and the Election in 1968


Tending to the typical American lawn — a scene played out around the nation in 1968 as voters got ready to go to the polls to choose their next president. This issue featured an editorial about the imminent election, which would see Richard Nixon win the election over Hubert Humphrey. In his editorial, Seed World editor Percy Stelle writes, “Many people abroad feel that the United States no longer has a shining image. …Keep in mind, too, that under today’s conditions there is no assurance that the prosperity which we in the United States have been enjoying will continue indefinitely. History has seen many countries come to the top of power and splendor and then decline to minor powers.”


3.1 million is the number of American farms in 1968, according to USDA statistics. That number was expected to decrease to 2.1 million by 1980.

12 to 24 is the number of months to develop a sod crop.

4.5 million pounds of Merion Kentucky Bluegrass seed is forecasted to be produced.

10,000 is the number of acres of Oro rapeseed contracted in North America
that year.

973,500 pounds is the amount of clover seed imported in the United States.



Continued Editorial

By Percey Stelle, Seed World editor

“… And then because of greed, the lack of respect for the rights of people within and outside their empires, and the failure to build good relations with their own people and their neighbors, they fell apart.

“Do we no longer care about the freedom which our forefathers fought so hard to win? Are we so interested in making money or in having a good time that we won’t take a few minutes two or three times and year to show up to the polls and vote, or to write to those who represent us in Congress expressing our views on important matters being considered by them? If that is the case, then we get what we deserve — poor government, increased taxes, curtailed service, the spending of money wastefully, and indifference upon the part of public officials as to what people want.

“With conditions as they are in Europe and other parts of the world, I cannot help but feel that the people of America should try this year to set a better example than we have in the past as to what democracy means by going to the polls on Nov. 5 and casting our votes, and then by contacting those in office when important matters come up and urging our friends to do likewise. …If we all do this, I am sure that the trend which has been gaining headway in recent years for those elected to office to forget their pledges to the people will be reversed, and we will come back to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Public Agencies and Field Crop Development

By William Hueg, Jr., University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station

Perhaps no single idea has done more to foster formal and informal discussion among research scientists in industries and public institutions than the prospect of the development of hybrid cereal grains other than corn. Traditionally, plant breeders in universities and the USDA have been responsible for improvement of grain varieties. But their roles have changed, and they will continue to change in the future.

In the improvement of field crops, public institutions have several distinct roles. The first is the development of new varieties with superior agronomic characteristics and superior quality. At public institutions, however, few breeding projects list the development of new varieties as the major program goal. More likely the goal is to discover more about the mechanisms of the crop plant — its genetics, physiology, resistance to insects and disease.

It is also important to find how these characteristics can be incorporated into existing crop lines to improve them, or to determine whether it would be better to develop entirely new materials. Whether this work is done by public or private breeders probably is of less concern today than in the past.

The second role of the public institutions is to provide new genetic materials. The main concern is to get the improved germplasm used in a wider base and to make it available to growers. New genetic materials should be available to all breeders.

These institutions will further the total research effort by providing highly skilled scientists and technicians to be employed by federal and state agencies and private industry.

Management for the Farm of the 70s

By A.G. Mueller, associate professor of farm management, University of Illinois

The future of our country’s largest industry is good. Population is increasing, although not as rapidly as it did during the 1950s, and there is an ever-expanding demand for good products. We live in a time when communications have developed to the extent that to be as isolationist means to withdraw from space exploration. New research development in our agriculturally-related industries, universities, and government laboratories have provided us with a constant flow of new technology.

Faced with these rapidly-changing technical, social and economic phenomena, the real challenge for our farms is to develop the managerial systems that will permit the farm firm to survive and be profitable.

The use of a corporation business structure is increasing rapidly in agriculture, and I predict that agriculture of the future will have an increasing number of farm organizations as corporate entities.

The Future of the Sod Industry

By Ben Warren, president, Warren’s Turf Nurseries

The sod industry as it exists today consists of a variety of business methods and growing techniques. In the south the crops are established almost exclusively by vegetative means, and much of this grass is sold for sprigging, plugging or stolonizing in addition to solid sod. In the north, except for the creeping bents, the crops are produced from seed and are sold as solid sod.

A few years ago, lawn areas that required more than 1,000 yards or so were not considered good prospects for sod because of the cost. Today, in areas where sizeable production has developed, areas much larger than this are being sodded.

The equipment used in the growing of sod has improved over the years, but rather erratically. Of course, much of the machinery is the same as that found on farms or golf courses, and we have and will benefit from the gradual improvements in this equipment.

Changes in harvesting equipment have come slowly and in widely spaced steps. The mechanized sod cutter came in 1948 and it was about 15 years later before labor saving equipment designed to make the handling after cutting more efficient began to reach the point of practicality.

It would seem that we should see progress in this area in the near future that will be welcome, but not dramatic.