The donation of two research plot combines by Stewart Seeds, Inc., to the University of Arkansas System’s Division of Agriculture will help preserve valuable research data in eastern Arkansas, said Fred Bourland, director of field research units at Keiser and Marianna.

The Northeast Research and Extension Center at Keiser and Lon Mann Cotton Research Station at Marianna each harvests about 20,000 research plots per year of soybeans, corn, rice, wheat and grain sorghum, Bourland said. Harvesting with small plot combines is a slow process because the grain must be carefully processed to record research data.

“Each location had only one plot combine, and with the number of research plots increasing we felt we were running the risk of losing plots and research data if harvest were delayed by weather or mechanical problems,” Bourland said.

“We contacted Stewart Seeds about two plot combines they had for sale, and after we visited a while they very generously offered to give them to us.”

New combines of a similar design would cost over $250,000 each. “These are used, but they are in excellent condition,” Bourland said.

Steve Gunn, Stewart Seeds vice president of production, said, “We realized we could help the seed industry by donating the combines for use in research and development. When the University of Arkansas called, we decided that would be a great home for them. We are just glad to be in a position to help a program that is doing so much to help our industry.”

“We are extremely grateful for this very generous gift,” said Milo Shult, UA vice president for agriculture. “Stewart Seeds and the Stewart family are great examples of the progressive spirit in American agriculture that values research and development to provide improved crop varieties and other technology advances.”

The combines were donated in memory of Gilman C. Stewart and in honor of John A. Stewart, the two sons of Arthur Stewart, who started producing and selling seed corn in 1918 in Greensburg, Ind. He was a pioneering producer of hybrid seed corn in the 1930s.

Gilman and John joined the farming and seed business after military service in World War II. They were joined by the third generation of Stewarts in the 1970s. Jim and Tom Stewart and brother-in-law Steve Gunn currently operate the family business.

The company now has about 50 employees who grow and market corn, soybean and wheat seed and raise purebred Angus cattle seed stock. They serve producers throughout Indiana and Ohio.