Von Roeder, Max 1986-01-28

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Max Von Roeder reviews cotton breeding and seed business in West Texas.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Max Von Roeder

Additional Parties Recorded: None

Date: January 28, 1986

Location: Snyder, Texas

Interviewer: Richard Mason

Length: 1 hour 5 minutes


Tape 1, Side 1: Von Roeder, Max, His company is member of American Delinters Association, 35-40 members nationwide, Business in his family a long time, His father’s older brother bred cotton, C. N. Von Roeder started, Farm in Borden County with cotton and 70 acres of peaches, Self-pick peaches in World War II years, Max was 8 years old at the time, Elberta free-stone peaches harvested, Sheriff from Gail monitored harvest, About 3,000 people to come, “The Peach Rush” repeated other years, Price was $1/bushel, Growing peaches, Trees planted in mid 1930’s, He was born in 1932, Cotton business (again), His father moved up from Lockhart, Texas in 1909, Hand-picking cotton, Uncle (again), C. N. (Clement) Von Roeder, Attended U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, His father (again), Nowlin Von Roeder,, Schooled to 9th grade, Clement (again), Had a finger cut off so couldn’t pick cotton, Observed better plants and harvested separately, Planted in his garden the next year, Selection criteria was high yield, Big-bolled picker selection called Texas Mammoth, Clement’s son who was a little older than Max, Thinned garden cotton out by accident, Clement continued selection work in future years, Growers at time got fuzzy planting seed from a gin pile, Few pure varieties, Mebane cotton strains, Breeder in the San Marcos area, Clement (again) increased seed for his own use, Neighbors requested his cotton, Clement, Nowlin (again) and brother in law Ed Murphy were partners, They increased acreage, and marketed by word of mouth, About 2,000 acres by the 3 men, Murphy was bought out and he ran cattle, Farm mechanization was increasing, Clement continued his selections, Also crossed with Mr. Macha’s stormproof cotton, Macha due more credit than he gets, Macha cotton boll was too tight- “like pecans”, Macha gene used by all stormproof breeders, Texas Mammoth picker cotton (again), Their next variety was Western Prolific picker cotton, Used in the 1940’s, (Interviewer’s father grew it near Grassland, Texas), Mechanical harvesting was coupled with more stormproof, Macha type was crossed with Western Prolific, Western Prolific probably selected from Texas Mammoth, Texas Mammoth probably selected from Mebane, John Deere Model 15 stripper, and Oliver brand, About 1950 Western Stormproof was released, By mid fifties it had “lions share of market” in High/Rolling Plains, Lankart 57 cotton by Mr. Lankart also widely grown, Advertising, Word of mouth more effective than radio and newspaper, Peach reputation helped in 50-mile radius.

Tape 1, Side 2: Von Roeder, Max (again), His father had gift for PR (public relations), Uncle was breeder and father promoter, His father was hunter and shot wild animal movies, Meetings at gins with BBQ and movies, Gins would book and sell the seed, Shipped fuzzy seed in 3-bushel sacks, Bentley ?Bayes (again), Custom seed cleaner from Stamford area, Description of the cleaner, Hand sowing and stacking bags of fuzzy seed, Jackson’s were delinting, In 1950’s shipped fuzzy seed to Lamesa to delint, Shift to acid-delinted by 1960, Flame and saw delinting, Lamesa delinting with Mr. ?Satterbite, Von Roeder put in own delinter in 1974, His father and Mr. Bayes reluctant, Good price at Lamesa- $20/ton, They waited too late- peaked in mid 1960’s, His father was retiring, He was returning from Air Force and Texas Tech, Mr. Bayes ran marketing, Uncle relaxed research effort, Mr. Bayes died in 1978, His one sister not interested, He got out of active farming, He and David ?Caches took over seed business, David bought Mr. Bayes share of company, He acquired his fathers share of company, David doing the breeding, Few general adaptation cottons like Paymaster 145, Bentley Bayes (again), Brought cleaner from ? Tuxedo near Stamford, Big farm family with several brothers, They had baseball teams and singing, Von Roeder warehouse on east side of town, They could “gee-haw” with Bayes, Bayes brought his family with, died at age 65, He served as general manager at office, Contracting with growers for seed began about 1950, Mr. Franklin grows for them, They ran 4 trucks, Texas Mammoth variety (again), They helped introduce skip-row cotton, First tractor was John Deere B with lugs, Peach customers saw skip-row cotton in 1940’s, Uncle Clement (again), His father was youngest of 11 children, His father took over farming after 9th grade, PR skills (again).

Tape 2, Side 1: Von Roeder, Max (again), Selling cotton fiber and grades, Old-time cotton buyers in every town, Planting seed selection in 1930’s (again), Replanting several times was expected, Von Roeder yields were better, Old seed price was $3/bushel, Certified now at $26 per 50 lb. bag, Farmer-caught seed issues now, Micro-naire effects, Western Stormproof was indeterminate and low mike, Their criteria was yield and stormproof, High turnout, lint % near 30%, Staples around 15/16 or 31/32, He and Mr. Bayes (again), His uncle’s (?Clements) son R. B. did some maintenance on varieties, (ends after 5 minutes).

Tape 2, Side 2: Blank

Range Dates: 1909-1986

Bulk Dates: 1930-1980

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