The only crop conditioned in our plant is alfalfa seed. It is automated to reduce labor and eliminate mix-ups that can so easily occur. Incoming alfalfa seed moves directly from truck to an appropriately sized bin. When the time comes to condition that seed it moves to the processing line by computer control without any additional labor.
Cleaning alfalfa seed is difficult, as many common weeds have seeds the same size as alfalfa seed. All mills must be adjusted to match the weeds, crop, and trash in the incoming alfalfa seed lot. It is easy to clean the seed perfect, but results in too much good alfalfa seed ending up in the screenings bin.
As we are both alfalfa seed growers and farmers, we clean each lot as if it was our own seed, but thinking we must plant it on our own farm. Get as much good alfalfa seed as possible from each lot, but get it as clean as possible at the same time. Test samples are drawn during conditioning, but the final representative sample goes to an independent, offsite, seed testing laboratory for the final certificate of analysis.
The automation allows one person to manage all aspects of the conditioning – right from moving the seed from outside storage to printing labels and packaging. It also reduces the opportunity for human error, accidental alfalfa seed variety mixing.
Our plant operators are highly skilled and well compensated individuals, who play key roles in our farming operation in the off season. This allows us to retain excellent employees who pay their way all yearlong. It also keeps our costs low, and those savings are passed along to both the farmer who grew the alfalfa seed, and the customer who purchases that seed. We normally only schedule 50 hours per week, but will run 24 hours a day if our customers need their seed on short notice. The plant is capable of turning out 100,000 pounds of alfalfa seed every day, with millions of pounds shipped every year.
Some of the options our customers routinely request include:
Custom labels with your logo, name, and contact information.
Packaging in your bags, our bags or bulk bags.
Many customers prefer bulk bags, to allow easy blending, treatment and finish packaging.
Alfalfa Seed Inoculation with products such as Nitragin Gold.
Reducing hard seed levels without affecting total germination.
The alfalfa seed is shipped via both enclosed vans and tarped flat decks for destinations throughout North America. The seed going offshore is packed in containers for ocean freight to the customer’s inbound ocean port.
We don’t have staff sitting around waiting for a truck to load or unload alfalfa seed. Rather those people are working in our farm shop or our bee operation on tasks that aren’t time sensitive. When a truck shows up, they step into action for an hour or so, then go back to their other tasks. Again, this keeps our costs down, which allows us to operate on thin margins.