By Matt Reese
In the mid 1930s, hybrid seed corn had not yet changed the world of agriculture, but early innovators recognized its potential to do so. One of those innovators was Herb Ruff. Ruff was farming 110 acres just outside of Amanda in southern Fairfield County when he decided he needed to do something different to stabilize his farm income. The result was the start of Ruff’s Seed Farm in 1936 that is celebrating its 75thAnniversary this month.
“He saw there was a future for hybridized corn and the increased income he could get from raising seed,” said Allan Reid, the current general manager for Ruff’s Seed. “He was a real innovator that was not afraid to try something new and we have tried to continue that philosophy.”
The farm has grown from 100 acres to 1,600 acres and the business remains in the family after 75 years of service to farmers. Ruff’s daughter married Reid and they moved back to the farm around 40 years ago to work in the business.
“The real advantage is that it has always been a family owned company and it still is. My children and brother-in-law and I are he sole owners,” Reid said. “It has always been run by family and local people.”
Since the company started, there have been more monumental changes in agriculture, and the company has effectively evolved with the times.
“Herb was on the ground floor with private label soybeans in the early 1960s. We were one of the first companies to do Maize Dwarf Mosaic research on corn and now we hardly hear about that problem any more,” Reid said. “Herb also had one of the first 8-row corn planters after he hooked two four-row planters together. He was always trying something new.”
With the advent of Roundup Ready technology, and genetically modified seed, the seed company had to again make some changes in the 1990s.
“It is a different world with GMOs, but we’ve been able to stay up with technology. We are fully licensed by Monsanto for all of their corn, soybeans and the alfalfas. We will have available the refuge in a bag which is the next big step in GMO corn,” he said. “GMOs have totally changed things, but we still compete because our advantage is local service and the ability offer good quality products and the personal contact with the farmers that you don’t always get with the bigger companies. And, we can be less expensive because we don’t have the overhead of the bigger guys.”
The local touch of this veteran full-line seed company is also a benefit to customers, Reid said.
“We’re farmers too and we understand what the farmer needs. We don’t look at test plots, we look at acreage,” he said. “We’re going to survive on service, competitive prices and the quality of our products.”
In this video, Ty Higgins spoke with Tom Pontius about the success of Ruff’s.