History of Corn States
Corn States has been a part of Monsanto since 1997, and today we offer independent seed companies across the U.S. with Monsanto’s leading genetics, traits and seed treatments. But we’re also made up of the history, legacy and expertise of Holden’s Foundation Seeds and Corn States Hybrid Service – both well-known in the history of the seed industry as reliable suppliers of high-quality foundation seed.
Roland Holden began Holden’s Foundation Seeds in partnership with his father, Carl. Roland and Carl started the business with a $400 loan from a local bank in Williamsburg, Iowa. That summer, Holden’s produced its first two double-cross hybrids.
John Spence formed Corn States Hybrid Service in Des Moines, Iowa. That year he also met Roland Holden and agreed to handle the sales efforts for Holden’s – on a handshake agreement. The relationship between the two men and their companies endured for many years.
1930s and 1940s
During these decades, public universities developed most corn hybrids. Roland visited many of these universities and collected the new lines they released. He combined these lines to create new, unique hybrids, tested them for yield and agronomic performance, and selected the best combinations to produce and market.
1950s and 1960s
Both Holden’s and Corn States flourished during this time, and Holden’s became the largest foundation seed supplier in the U.S. This status came not only because of the high-quality foundation seed they offered, but also because of the good agronomic advice the teams provided to their customers.
During the 1960s, public universities experienced a decrease in funding for inbred development, and Holden’s realized the only way seed sellers, their customers, could remain competitive would be if Holden’s greatly expanded its corn breeding efforts.
1970s and 1980s
In the mid-1970s, Holden’s began marketing proprietary lines developed as a result of the increased breeding efforts in the 1960s. From 1977 to 1982, Holden’s sales changed from 95% public lines to 95% proprietary lines. The success of proprietary lines led to significant growth for both companies in the 1980s and the introduction of three more research stations.
With the advent of biotechnology traits in the 1990s, it became apparent to Corn States and Holden’s that in order to keep their customers competitive, it would be necessary to partner with a biotech company. Monsanto provided the best combination of industry-leading research and a pipeline of traits that provided significant benefits to farmers, leading to Monsanto acquiring both companies in 1997.
2000s to Present
Since being integrated into Monsanto, Corn States has continued our long-standing policy of licensing germplasm and traits, while also gaining a deep understanding of our partners’ operations and providing them with comprehensive business solutions to help them achieve their business visions.