The Good Times Rolled at Latham's Freedom of Independence Ride
Get your motor runnin’
Head out on the highway
Lookin’ for adventure
And whatever comes our way…
Like the lyrics to Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild,” more than 120 vehicles got their motors runnin’ on Saturday, Aug. 31, and headed out on U.S. Highway 71 from Okoboji, Iowa, for the inaugural Latham Freedom of Independence Ride.
We wanted to celebrate the independent American spirit, and what better way to do so than a road trip featuring motorcycles, cars and trucks?
The first of five groups left Arnold’s Park at 12:30 p.m. and merged onto Highway 9 for a 23-mile trip to Estherville. Just north of town, we made our first field stop where company president John Latham gave a brief recount of his family’s business, started 62-years ago by John’s grandfather, Willard Latham. Willard started it all in 1947 by custom cleaning oats for area farmers. During the 1960s, the business evolved into soybean production. CystX® soybean breeding for resistance to soybean cyst nematode (SCN) began in 1990, and Latham® soybeans with the Roundup Ready technology were introduced in 1996. The company added corn hybrids to its product offering in 2004 and further expanded its product offering in 2008 with hybrid alfalfa.
From a discussion of Latham history, we headed our to learn about the Latham of today and tomorrow. Leg 2 of the Freedom of Independence Ride was a 41-mile trek from Estherville to Whittemore where MaxYield Co-op presented a Latham® Showcase. It was a chance for riders to get up close and personal with many Latham products in the field. Mark Grundmeier, product manager, also talked about the exciting new additions to the 2010 Latham Hi-Tech Soybean lineup: Genuity™ Roundup Ready 2 Yield™ with yields that are 7 to 11% better than the original Roundup Ready soybean technology, which had set the standard for more than a decade. Also at this stop, riders learned about Latham soybeans with the LibertyLink® technology, which is the only nonselective alternative to the Roundup Ready system. LibertyLink beans have no yield drag and are tolerant to the new Ignite® herbicide.
Having covered Latham past, present and future, it was time to put crop talk on hold for Leg 3 of the journey, which took us about 10 miles south to enjoy the serenity of the Grotto of Redemption in West Bend. It’s composed of nine separate grottos, each portraying a scene from the life of Christ. With the largest collection of precious stones and gems found anywhere in one location, the Grotto is truly a miracle in stone. Work on the Grotto began in 1912 and followed for 42 years.
Leg 4 involved a 43-mile route from West Bend to Lost Island Lake in Ruthven where riders heard a brief presentation from Jim Heckman, national sales manager. Heckman told the crowd that Latham Hi-Tech Seeds offers a broader and deeper lineup of traits and technologies than any other company. Our 2010 lineup includes: corn hybrids with YieldGard VT Triple®, Genuity™ SmartStax™, Herculex® XTRA, Agrisure® 3000GT; and soybeans with Roundup® Ready, Genuity™ Roundup Ready 2 Yield™, CystX®, Vistive™ and LibertyLink®.
What’s the point of being at the lake without a fishing pole? When corn talk was done, everyone took their best shot at a casting contest. Anyone who could land their cast inside the floating target would win an LCD TV. Congratulations to Scott Heetland, who was the only one to hit the bull’s-eye with one try!
The final leg of the journey, a 26-mile stretch from Ruthven to Arnolds Park, brought us full circle. After an afternoon filled with adventure and cool, fresh air, we were ready for the hog roast. The pork loin, grilled by Scott Nasers of Bigelow, MN, was fork-tender, juicy and succulent. After the roast, Latham Hi-Tech Seeds sponsored a live concert by The Magnificent Board of Directors who took the stage in Preservation Plaza at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re pleased that as an independent, family-owned company we can hold these types of events so our customers can experience the Latham brand difference,” said John Latham. “It was wonderful weather and a great day to be out in rural America. Thank you to everyone who came out and made the event a success.”