McCune celebrates 60 years

Quentin McCune of Toledo stands in front of the McCune Bros. Freightliner truck on the final day of the 2020 seed corn harvest on Oct. 9. Darvin Graham/News Chorincle

The 2020 seed corn harvest season came to a close last week for the Corteva/Pioneer plant in Toledo. Along with it came a celebration of a milestone for one Tama-Toledo farmer and truck driver.

Quentin McCune of Tama has been hauling corn for the Pioneer plant in Toledo, now known as Corteva, for the past 60 years.

Beginning in 1960, just five years after the seed corn plant was built, McCune and his brother Leonard spent decades hauling corn from the fields to the processing plant during harvest time.

“It’s been a good run,” McCune said. “I hope to do it another year but I don’t know. It depends on my health and everything.”

McCune recalls former Toledo plant manager Erv Heller being the one who helped recruit him into hauling grain for Pioneer as the two families lived and farmed near each other in rural Toledo.

Over the years McCune has observed a lot of changes in the way harvested seed corn was brought into the Toledo plant.

In the earlier years of McCune’s tenure, trailers holding the harvested corn would need to be hoisted several feet into the air in order to let gravity move the corn.

Today the traffic flow of semis is maximized for efficiency and trailers are equipped with an interior self-unloading system that pushes the corn from the front of the trailer out the back end.

The truck drivers that would haul into Pioneer used to contract independently with the growers. Eventually Pioneer became the middle man between the growers and the haulers which McCune said was a helpful development.

McCune also remembers having to deal with the Iowa Department of Transportation much more frequently in the earlier years before technology brought weight scale systems into the field.

“Back before the scaled dump system the DOT was on us all the time because they knew we didn’t know (what weight) we were at,” McCune said. “They knew we’d get too much on. But now they don’t even bother you at all because they know we’re loading from scaled dump carts in the field.”

Last Friday McCune hauled in his 128th load of the season for Corteva, a process that began on August 24. Weather has been mostly favorable, save for a five day stretch of rain in August.

McCune will now turn his attention toward his own corn fields where the derecho bent and flattened a good portion of his crop.

“Trucking has been a good fill in with our farming,” McCune said. “Sometimes it overlaps a little. I didn’t have any beans this year. I planted all corn so I could stay here. But that was kind of a bad choice because of the storm. Who knew though.”

Those working with McCune at Corteva have appreciated his consistency and work ethic through his six decades behind the wheel.

“Quentin has been a staple to the environment here during harvest,” Corteva Production Location Manager Colby Entriken said. “He’s adapted to the new norm as technology has improved and has done that willingly and with a great attitude. We thank Quentin for being a part of our team here for this many years. He’s been greatly appreciated.”