Birdsall Grain and Seed: Planting North Dakota
BERTHOLD – There’s a good chance that the crops you see while driving through northwest North Dakota came from locally grown seed, carefully processed at Birdsall Grain and Seed.
“What most producers buy from us is certified seed,” said Blake Inman, manager. “Ninety-nine percent of our seed is grown on our own farm or very close by with good contract growers.”
Inman says there are a number of different things that must be done to produce good quality seed that growers can rely on to produce good crops. Seed production progresses in stages from foundation to registered to certified. Twenty bushels of seed used to start the process might result in plant growth that will produce a greater volume of seeds for the follow year.
“You slowly build,” explained Inman. “The state checks for seed quality. We submit seed for final certification of a lot and they check it for purity, DNA testing, and germination percentages. There’s a national seed standard and the North Dakota Seed Department makes sure that all is met. They actually come out and walk the fields for weeds and cross contamination.”
Birdsall Seed in used by growers all over North Dakota, especially in the northwest quadrant of the state. Seed is also sold to producers in Montana, South Dakota and Minnesota, all originating from Birdsall’s Berthold operation which has expanded to two seed plants to handle the demand.
“We farm, produce a lot of seed. We condition it all winter and sell it to farmers in the spring,” said Inman.
Located four miles west of Berthold on Highway 2, Birdsall Grain and Seed has expanded in recent years to encompass much more than seed production and sales.
“We’ve included agronomy, fertilizer and crop production products,” remarked Inman. “But seed is still our main thing. We do what we call new generation seed production for bigger seed companies. We’ve grown a fair amount over the last 10 years or so.”
Growth includes second, state of the art seed cleaning facility expected to come on-line about June 1.
“That will double our seed cleaning capacity with the newest in seeded cleaning that identifies any defects in the seed,” said Inman.
Inman said a lot of growers in the Berthold area are making “last minute decisions” on what to plant this year. Indications are that some corn acres will be switched over to wheat with maybe a bit more flax and durum.
“I think this year with what’s going on worldwide with the lockdown and COVID, it has added a lot of uncertainty that’s already there in the market,” said Inman. “It’s always a challenge. You just don’t know what the challenge is going to be from year to year.”