Early on, many claimed that Shelby County was a “banner” corn-producing county. It began in 1856, when some of the first settlers began breaking the prairie sod and planting open-pollinated strains of corn, with 668 acres being planted that year—a rather modest figure compared to modern times. Their initial hard work led to spectacular success, with 27,522 bushels being harvested from those acres in the fall of that year, resulting in an average of 41.2 bushels per acre. From that point on, there was no looking back.
By 1880, Shelby County was one of twenty-three counties in the state to break the four-million-bushel production barrier with an average yield of 45.2 bushels per acre.
In 1893, The Shelby Township corn growers secured top prizes for Shelby County corn at Chicago’s World Fair. With eight out of the twenty-three ears they entered winning top prizes for the Championship of the World.
In 1909, “The Journal,” the newspaper in Exira, reported that “Shelby County was the banner county of all Iowa ranking first in the state".
By 1930, planted acreage rose to 139,582 acres while average yields dropped to 36.0 bushels per acre due to droughts and drier weather. Despite the drop in average yield, Shelby County was still one of only nine Iowa counties to produce five million bushels of corn or more using open-pollinated corn.
In 1926 Dr. Alva Wilson and Wilson Hybrids of Harlan, the first hybrid seed-corn pioneer,
By 1940, hybrid seed corn was having a major impact on overall county production. In 1940, the average yield was 54.6 bushels per acre, increasing the average yield of 36.0 bushels per acre from just ten years earlier by almost 52 percent; 1940 also marked the first time that Shelby County, along with twenty-four other counties in the state, produced more than six million bushels of corn.
By 1946, seventeen hybrid seed corn companies were located in the county, with thirty different people growing seed for these companies.
By 1960, hybrid seed corn had long been the king. Shelby County planted 158,000 acres that year—a new record—and yields weighed in at 77.1 bushels per acre, an increase of 41 percent over the average yield in 1940. This put Shelby County into an elite class, making it one of only eight counties to produce more than twelve million bushels of corn.
The hybrid-corn pioneers played a significant role in Shelby County’s production growth; of that there can be no doubt. Their work and dedication led to another major milestone in 1969, when Shelby County broke the 100-bushel-per acre mark for the first time, with an average county yield of 101.0 bushels per acre. In the intervening thirty-nine years since 1930, average yields had increased a staggering 181 percent.
John Bauer Hybrids Best's Hybrids Haas Hybrid Havick's Hybrid Seed Corn Highland Hybrids Holloway Bros. Hybrid Kilpatrick's Hybrid Koesters Brothers Lange Hybrid T.E. Lawrence Hybrid Pingel's Hybrid Plumb's Hybrid John Rosmann Seed Company Joe Schechinger Hybrid Shelby County Hybrids Tru-Valu Hybrids Wilson Hybrids
Patent - James Oliver 11/18/1873 horse drawn plow Patent - W.L. Casaday 05/02/1876 plw did away with the lanside using a wheel Two horse corn planters dates from 1853 Patent - D.S. Rockwell 03/12/1839 4 wheel planter with 2 seed boxes Patent - Jarvis Case 1857 4 wheel planter Patent - M. Robbins 1857 Planter drops in check automatically