At its 115th annual meeting in Fergus Falls, Minn., Jan. 10, the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association recognized several leaders in the seed industry for their contributions.
MCIA’s most prestigious award, the Achievement in Crop Improvement, was presented to Keith Chisholm, Gary, Minn. The achievement award, sponsored by The Farmer since the award’s inception in 1972, is presented annually to an individual in recognition of exemplary service to the seed industry, as well as outstanding leadership in agriculture and the local community.
ACCEPTING THE AWARD: Accepting the 2018 MCIA Achievement in Crop Improvement Award for Keith Chisholm, who was unable to attend the annual meeting Jan. 10 in Fergus Falls, Minn., was his plant manager, Emil Waskow.
Chisholm has spent a lifetime producing certified seed and seeking ways to diversify his farming and seed business operation. He grew up on a dairy and crop farm, and attended Northwest School of Agriculture in Crookston, graduating in 1955. He started farming a year later with his brothers.
A long time MCIA member, Chisholm has produced a variety of certified seed crops including wheat, barley, oats, soybeans and edible beans. He served six years on the MCIA board of directors and on other MCIA committees. In 1990, he was named a Premier Seedsman.
Over his 60-plus-year ag career, Chisholm has built two MCIA-approved seed conditioning plants. The first was Circle C Seeds, which he sold. The second facility, which he recently built, is used for cleaning seed and processing edible beans.
At the local level, Chisholm has been active in his county crop improvement association and helped organize the Annual County Crop Show for many years. He also was a member of the school board for 15 years, including time as board chairman.
Chisholm also served in the U. S. military and is a member of the local VFW and the American Legion organizations.
Four individuals were honored with Premier Seedsman Awards. The awards, presented since 1929, recognize individuals and companies that have demonstrated long-term commitment to the production and promotion of high-quality certified seed, and have been active in MCIA and their local communities.
The 2018 recipients were:
• Brent Benike, Birchdale, Minn. Benike has been involved in the production of certified seed across the state throughout his career.
Benike attended the University of Minnesota at Crookston, and then he went to the St. Paul campus to study soils and agronomy. It was during his college years that he became associated with MCIA, working part time in the seed lab and as a field inspector.
After college, he went to central Minnesota, working in seed corn production for Garst Seed and Interstate Payco Seed Co. He headed back north and now serves as general manager at Northern Farmers Co-op Exchange and Northern Excellence Seed LLC. Northern Excellence processes and markets locally grown turfgrass seed to customers around the U.S. and in Europe.
Benike has served on the MCIA board and committees. He is also active in the Minnesota Turf Seed Council.
He farms with his brothers Ross and Kent as they continue to farm on the homeplace.
Perry Ellingson, 2018 Premier Seedsman Award
• Perry Ellingson, Borup, Minn. Ellingson has produced certified seed for more than 30 years. In the early days, his family’s farm included milk cows and hogs. Later, the family discontinued livestock production and concentrated on crops. Over the years, the family raised barley, beets, soybeans and wheat.
Ellingson and his father got into seed production after visiting with MCIA field supervisor Jerry Herman about producing certified seed. For 20-plus years, he worked with Petermann Seed of Hawley, growing primarily wheat seed and food-grade beans. Ellingson has recently retired.
Bryant Haugrud, 2018 Premier Seedsman Award
• Brent and Bryant Haugrud, Rothsay, Minn. The Haugrud brothers’ family farm has been producing certified seed for nearly 60 years, with their parents, Harlan and Helen Ann, starting the business.
Back when most certified seed was sold in bushel bags, the whole family would be working in the seed plant, bagging and stacking pallets of seed.
Over the years, the two brothers fell into specific roles in the family farm and seed businesses. Brent serves as the main mechanic and engineer, fixing, repairing and maintaining all equipment on the farm. Bryant oversees the seed business, having worked closely with his mother to manage bookkeeping and paperwork. He also enjoys visiting with customers, having learned from his father the importance of taking time to listen and build relationships with customers.
Haugrud Seed has grown foundation seed for MCIA for many years, including wheat, soybeans, barley, oats and flax.
Bryant has served on the MCIA Foundation Seed committee and both are members of the Wilkin County Crop Improvement Association.
Jim Anderson, 2018 Honorary Premier Seedsman Award
The 2018 Honorary Premier Seedsman Award was given to Jim Anderson, spring wheat breeder at the University of Minnesota since 1998.
Anderson leads a team of researchers that has developed some impressive new wheat varieties, including Linkert, which in 2017 was the most widely grown variety in Minnesota. In fact, last year, Minnesota varieties were planted on more than 50% of Minnesota wheat acres. This has not happened since the 1980s.
Of the varieties recently developed, Linkert ranks No. 1 in acres, Bolles has the highest protein, Shelly has outstanding yields and Lang-MN has a combination of traits. Strong support from the Minnesota Wheat Growers Association over the past two decades helped provide support for the U-M’s wheat breeding program.