his experience and the successful development of the inbred-hybrid concept for providing hybrids to producers, Sprague had great foresight in the future direction of corn research during the last half of the twentieth century. He recognized there would be a rapid transition from the prominence of publicly supported breeding programs before World War II to the rapid expansion of the commercial hybrid-seed-corn industry after World War II. He encouraged and supported the publicly supported agencies to emphasize high-risk long-term research agendas; the applied aspects of line and hybrid development would be the main focus of the commercial seed industry.
Sprague also realized that development and improvement of germplasm resources would be necessary to maintain the genetic improvement of lines and hybrids. He was a strong proponent of the recurrent selection methods developed in the 1940s for genetic improvement of maize germplasm. He developed synthetic cultivars during the 1930s and 1940s that were the basis of his selection studies. Continued selection within the synthetic cultivars was conducted and they were integrated with line and hybrid development programs. One of these synthetic cultivars, Iowa Stiff Stalk Synthetic, became an important germplasm source of inbred lines that were, and continue to be, prominent in the pedigrees of hybrids in the U.S. Corn Belt during the last fifty years. It is estimated that 40% to 45% of U.S. hybrids include germplasm whose origin traces to Iowa Stiff Stalk Synthetic.
George F. Sprague is recognized nationally and internationally for his contribution to the successful implementation of the inbred-hybrid concept for developing superior corn hybrids. In the developed areas of the world, hybrid corn is grown on nearly all of the maize-growing area and the percentage of hybrid maize has increased in the lesser