Meet the Learnard family: Selling farm seeds for 85 years


RURAL CATLIN — Inside the early An factor of final century, it wasn’t unusual for a seed gross salesman to Even be a farmer. Full-time seed gross sales people At the second are the norm, however there are nonetheless some farmers who additionally promote seeds.

Working event, Greg Learnard — the third period of his household to be in the enterprise. Catlin’s Learnard Seed Providers has been round As a Outcome of The good Melancholy.

The late Elmer Learnard, Greg’s grandfather, started the enterprise in 1936. His son and Greg’s father, Ben, carried on the custom.

Eighty-5 yrs later, Greg Learnard and his two sons stay actively involved in promoteing corn and soybeans Collectively with farming.

Again in the day, Based mostly on Ben, seed corn purchased for about $17 a bushel.

“You will Have The power to’t buy a lot seed these days for $17,” he said.

It is now purchased by models, which go by weight.

But there’s Greater than merely seed in the kernels. The seed additionally has inputs of pesticides and environmentally nice herbicides engineered into the corn.

Ben Learnard said the job was extra sturdy on the back then, too, “because 60-pound luggage have been delivered in 2-ton vans and have been unloaded by hand, incoming and outgoing.”

Greg, Who’s a retailer for Bayer, promotes DeKalb corn and Asdevelop soybeans.

“Bayer is huge in crop safety,” he said. “They promote A lot of herbicides and nicegicides. I really feel it was pure to get into the seed facet of it as properly.”

When Elmer Learnard acquired into the enterprise in 1936, DeKalb had simply started using farmer sellers. Lyle Trisler helped join him with DeKalb. Paradoxically, Trisler started his personal seed agency A pair of yrs later.

Greg Is Amongst The numerous prime three farmer sellers in Illinois When it Includes quantity and gross sales.

“Farmer sellers are Attending to be a unusual breed,” he said. “As farms have acquiredten hugeger, they don’t have the time.”

He works two full-time jobs with farming and seed gross sales. However It actually works for him Since the peak seasons complement Every completely different.

“As quickly as I started in ’92, it was a nice little factor to make Further money in the wintertime,” Learnard said. “Now it’s Sort of developed Proper into a full-time enterprise, so I’ve A pretty busy day typically. The two seasons don’t overlap An extreme quantity of. When everyone will get carried out with harvest, I’m carried out as properly And might put a seed order together.”

Learnard additionally develops soybeans for seed for Bayer.

“It Leads to a bag somethe place to plant subsequent yr,” he said.

There are premiums to working for The agency, however there’s extra work involved as properly, Similar to Making sure All of the vans and combines are cleaned out for purity nicections.

Much of the corn he and his sons develop is purchased commercially to Bunge in Danville.

Former buyer Doug Miller of rural Indianola, now retired, said his household goes back A few yrs with the Learnards. Grandfathers, fathers and now sons all know one ancompletely different.

“Our grandparents did work together on co-op boards, and my dad purchased seed corn from his dad,” said Miller, who additionally purchased seed from the household. “I’ve been farming since ’71, As quickly as we have been buying for DeKalb. We’ve been pals for a quantity of durations.”

He said He is Proud of Greg Learnard as a gross salesman.

“It wasn’t Almost gross sales with Greg,” he said. “He was On A daily basis making an try to be on the slicing Fringe of know-how. Greg’s On A daily basis been good and has gone with me to a quantity of seminars.”

Miller said Learnard additionally holds workshops the place he brings in audio system To current The latest farming information.

When Miller retired, he rented A few of his farm floor to Learnard and his sons.

Each Greg and Ben Learnard say the human factor is huge in the enterprise, noting gross sales calls and visits with pals, neighbors and buyers are perks of the job.

Ben said in days Passed by, The corporations Would supply revenue factors, which the gross salesmen might redeem for gadgets.

“When we married, my mom gave us her collected deserves, and we have been currentd many House gadgets” from them, he said.

That system was discontinued, and the deserves now go to The buyrs.

Ben Learnard additionally pointed To at least one completely different change. Corn was planted at 17,000 seeds per acre yrs in the past. Now it’s 36,000 seeds per acre.


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