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Munson Hybrids growing with the 2013 corn harvest

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This year's corn harvest is off and rolling at Munson Hybrids in Galesburg.

"Right now, growers are pretty well pleased," said John Hennenfent, the company's owner.

Pleased enough for the seed corn grower to double its staff just to keep up with demand. That's a good sign for the Knox County business and the corn harvest.

"What we've really done is made these plants produce under stressful conditions," he said. "And we had a lot of stress this year."

Extreme weather challenged the growing season.

"It's a weird one," said Wendell Shauman, past chairman of the U.S. Grains Council and a Kirkwood, Illinois, farmer.

Weather included a chilly, wet spring and a bone dry summer.

"It got dry," Shauman continued. "It got cool. We lost heat units on a crop that was already planted late."

Somehow, the corn is surviving and even thriving.

"Some of the yields are pretty good," Shauman said.

"Each plant, even in stress conditions, still has an ear," Hennenfent added.

Going into this week, just five percent of Illinois corn had been harvested. During the drought-ridden 2012, more than half the crop was in the bins. That pace will pick up in coming days.

Seeds make the difference at Munson Hybrids. That blend of science and know-how help corn to survive even the most extreme conditions.

"This is all based on breeding and protecting the plant from insects and other diseases," Hennenfent said.

As the work pace increases, it's a positive sign for the future. It's a future where the corn crop can still multiply in the most difficult weather.

"It's part of the food, fiber and fuel that we need to provide for the U.S. and for the world," he concluded.

At Munson Hybrids, it's all in a day's work.

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