Peterson Farms Seed

Craig LaVoi, territory manager for west central and southwest Minnesota, checked corn for green snap potential at Jeff Sieg’s grower observation plot. The hybrid is a 101-day Peterson Farms Seed cultivar, and it had reached 7 collars by June 15, 2020. Photo by Andrea Johnson.

Of all the seed tents that normally stand on the south end of Farmfest, Peterson Farms Seed is among the most recent to join Seed Row.

Owned by Carl and Julie Peterson, Peterson Farms Seed is headquartered near Fargo, with an official address of Harwood, N.D.

What makes Peterson Farms Seed unique is the company started out selling short-season cultivars and has gradually increased the maturities they offer.

Their soybean varieties range from 0.08-2.3 maturities, and their corn hybrids range from 74-107-day. The seeds are selected for Minnesota, South Dakota and North Dakota growing conditions.

Their farthest south farmer-dealer in Minnesota is Jeff Sieg, Truman, Minn., who farms in Watonwan and Blue Earth counties.

“It seems like 101-105-day corn grows pretty decent around here,” Sieg said. “It’s just finding those right products.”

He’s found those products in Peterson Farms Seed, first learning about the company about five years ago. That’s when he was attending workshops at Iowa State University – the Peterson’s alma mater. Sieg was impressed with their attention to detail and desire to produce a quality product.

Among the first people Sieg met was Craig LaVoi, territory manager for west central and southwest Minnesota. He lives near Fergus Falls – a four-hour drive north of Sieg.

“Jeff is a bit of an anomaly. We jumped over some territory and brought him on,” said LaVoi said. “The ultimate goal for Peterson Farms Seed is to gain more of a presence in southwest Minnesota – enough so we can hire another person to cover the area.”

As an early adapter, Sieg has been really happy with the Peterson Farms Seed brand. The seed is very well cleaned to eliminate splits. In the seed bin, Peterson Farms Seed looks like it’s been waxed. Germination is excellent. He plants 34,000 seeds per acre for corn, and 140,000 seeds in 30-inch rows per acre for soybeans. Almost every seed grows.

“I would say 90-plus percent of our seed gets moved out the door at 94 percent germ,” LaVoi said.

Last year, Peterson Farms Seed had a brand new variety that farmers wanted, but it germed at only 85 percent, so the Petersons wouldn’t sell it. That decision on quality comes directly from Carl and Julie, who have always said their seed has to meet the stringent criteria for their own farm before they will sell it to someone else.

Sieg maintains two grower observation plots – one for corn and one for soybeans. The plots are used primarily to observe what is going on agronomically across the region.

“What I like is to see the numbers out in the plots and figure out what works well right here in this area,” he said. “We get to see what works on our farms. We’re trying some new numbers on the farm all the time.”

Along with dozens of grower observation plots, Peterson Farms Seed is depending on roughly 27,000 replicated plots of soybeans and 14,500 corn plots spread across 10-12 different regions for research-driven agronomic information.

The corn seed is raised in southwest Wisconsin under fertigation, and the soybean seed is grown throughout the tri-state region.

“Our soybean production growers are all customers, so we work closely with them and we get a lot of help through our dealers to find us the right people,” LaVoi said. “We depend on people like Jeff that know people in the area that can point us in the right direction.

“Being a production grower is not just planting soybeans. It’s a whole different ballgame to maintain our quality standards. We have soybean seed growing from Sioux Falls up to the Canadian border,” he added

For Sieg, who farms with his father, Lee Sieg, planting in 2020 went well. The first main challenge was 3-5 inches of rain that fell across the region shortly after the corn had emerged. There was a small hail event early in the growing season, too.

When LaVoi checked over the plots on June 15, he didn’t see any signs of disease associated with hail damage. The region experienced several days of very strong winds, so Sieg will be keeping an eye on the crops over the next several weeks. He still had soybean herbicide to spray, and then he’ll see if he wants to do any additional applications this growing season.

One of the biggest challenges for 2021 and beyond is reacting to regulatory changes, especially related to using dicamba, but perhaps to other soybean- or corn-traited products, too.

To meet the needs of farmers, Peterson Farms Seed is growing everything this year.

“What we want dealers and growers and customers to know is that we’re going to have supplies to meet their needs – no matter what trait it is,” LaVoi said. “It’s because we are independent that we’re able to bring all of these options to the farmer. If it’s something they want, we’re going to have it.”