News and Events

9/24/14 - Northwest Grain Growers delivers Custom Seed Blends on Demand

The farmer-owned cooperative translates regional expertise & technology into individualized solutions

Walla Walla, Washington — Established in 1929, Northwest Grain Growers is a Pacific Northwest agricultural cooperative with a deeply rooted knowledge of its area’s varied terrain and climate. The company works with farmers individually to craft prescriptions of seed varieties and protectants, factoring in the tillage, moisture, temperature, seeding date and disease/insect history specific to each farm, and in some cases, each field within the farm.

“Our region has a lot of ecological diversity,” explains Northwest Grain Growers Seed Manager Mike Klicker. “It ranges from 10 to 30 inches of rainfall, from the desert to 3,000 feet elevation. We seed wheat 10 months out of the year.”

Farmers arrive with a unique set of needs and leave with an equally unique batch of seed — one designed to address the problems and maximize the opportunities in each field.

On Demand Technology
Everything in Northwest Grain Growers’ system is entirely on demand, which means customers get exactly what they want — and fast. The operation loads trucks at 4,000 pounds a minute.

“We’ve build a seed plant that can handle a farmer showing up with a prescription for what varieties he wants at what percentages, as well as what seed treatments he wants at what rates,” says Klicker. “It’s all computer-generated, from the bins to the treater to the truck.” Gates open, pumps activate and the next thing the farmer knows, he has a truckload of seed.

For farmers, it's as easy as 1-2-3. Varieties are pulled at the prescribed ratios using a complex programmable logic control system. Seed treatments are applied using an injection manifold primed with 10 to 12 variable rate options. Customers receive loads of custom blended seeds treated to their specifications.

“The service Northwest Grain Growers is capable of providing doesn’t get better anywhere in the United States,” says Frank Curtis, Limagrain Cereal Seeds (LCS) Executive Vice President and COO.

Strong Portfolio
More than 80 percent of Northwest Grain Growers’ customers request seed mixtures instead of buying just one variety of seed. That’s because blending different varieties allows farmers to minimize risk by cultivating the best traits from each variety. The company handles between 35 and 40 varieties of wheat and barley every year, and Klicker credits LCS with adding significantly to the diversity and strength of its portfolio.

“The plant stature and maturities are nice, and they have excellent yield potential,” Klicker says of LCS varieties in general, adding that his best-selling varieties — LCS Artdeco, LCS Azimut and Buck Pronto — do especially well in certain growing regions. “LCS has brought new material to the Pacific Northwest, and I know that they’ll continue to do that.”

Similarly, Northwest Grain Growers will continue to bring robust offerings to its retail and wholesale clients in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, Nebraska, Montana and beyond.

Established in 1929, Northwest Grain Growers is a farmer-owned cooperative located in Walla Walla, Washington. The company works with farmers and farm-related businesses to streamline their operations and reduce their costs.