When did Monsanto first start growing seed corn in Hawaii? Why did Monsanto select Hawaii over other places?

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Q: When did Monsanto first start growing seed corn in Hawaii? Why did Monsanto select Hawaii over other places?

Monsanto’s roots in Hawaii go back to the 1960s, when winter nurseries for seed corn first started in the islands.

Molokai Seed Service started in 1965, and later evolved to become Hawaiian Research. At about the same time, in 1968, Bob Rauenhorst, a Minnesota farmer with an interest in the Trojan Seed Company, was vacationing on Maui and chanced upon a local grower in Kihei who was giving up his lease. Recognizing the island’s ideal climate for agriculture, Rauenhorst helped purchase the lease and subsequently, the Trojan Seed Company was established on Maui.

Over time, through a series of business changes and acquisitions, both Hawaiian Research and Trojan Seed Company evolved into Monsanto Hawaii. Today, Monsanto Hawaii employs more than 1,000 residents statewide including over 700 full-time employees and 325 seasonal workers.

There are few places in the world as ideal as Hawaii for the seed industry in spite of Hawaii’s distance from the U.S. Mainland and the high cost of land, transportation and other resources. The State’s year-round growing environment, minimal temperature fluctuations, skilled agricultural workforce and a rigorous U.S. regulatory and legal environment are attractive to the seed crop industry, and contribute to the success of Monsanto’s global operations. Whereas some sectors of Hawaii agriculture have declined over time due to competition from other countries where labor, water and other costs are much cheaper, Monsanto’s agricultural jobs are not as easily exportable.

Hawaii’s temperate weather allows seed companies like Monsanto Hawaii the opportunity to grow nurseries 3 to 4 times per year which allows us to get new products developed and delivered to our farmer customers faster. By comparison, only one breeding cycle per year occurs in many of our corn growing locations.