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Pioneer’s pioneers: Seed company long-timers end career

Kelly Ragan

Glen and Lyle Murray parted ways with Pioneer Seed Company after their family spent generations as an integral part of the company in northeastern Colorado.

The brothers, 66 and 55 respectively, retired. They’re ready for a change of pace.

“You’ve got to know when to pass the torch,” Lyle said. “You’ve got to be happy with what you do.”

The family relationship with Pioneer began when the Murray’s grandfather struck a deal with a seed salesman. The salesman gave the seed to him for free on the condition that if it yielded more than he planted, he would owe money back.

When their grandfather died, their father took over the business. When their father died young, their mother took the reins.

“She was the only lady in the seed business,” Glen said. “As far as being in the name of the salesmen, there were no ladies.”

Glen took over the business in his twenties and ran it until this August. He wants to spend more time on his own farm.

“The bottom line is time,” Glen said. “I wanted to slow down a bit.”

He cherished his time with the company and the people his line of work allowed him to meet. Glen looks forward to spending time with his machines. He loves anything with tires, he said.

The Murrays remember when their Denver Metro area community was rural. Urban pressure and forced annexation has since crowded out most other farms in the area. They doubt their farm will survive another generation.

“We are the only farm in Commerce City,” Glen said.

Farming is changing, Glen said. Precision agriculture and increasing utilization of technology is switching up the game. For traditional farmers, relying on production agriculture isn’t as sustainable as it once was, Glen said.

With less than two percent of the U.S. population involved in agriculture, farmers are becoming less respected and less important, Lyle said.

“As long as there’s plenty of food out there, people take you for granted,” Lyle said.

Life used to move at a different pace. In 1930, yields would be about 30 bushels an acre, Glen said. Today, yields are closer to 300 an acre. They used to have four days to get the seed off the boxcar it came on.

Things move faster now.

Decades in the seed business left the brothers with experience and memories to cherish. Most of all, the people they met mattered.

“Our relationships with people had the biggest impact on me,” Glen said. “We want to thank all our customers. If you’re a farmer, you know reputation is probably the most important thing. You get a good one by how you treat people.” ❖




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