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“I’m a seed salesman!”

Carl and Julie Peterson never set out to be in the seed business. Their passion was farming – and still is.

Carl grew up on a family farm near Prosper, North Dakota. Julie’s family worked the land near Waterloo, Iowa.

But sometimes life throws you a curve. In Carl’s and Julie’s case, it was a devastating wheat scab outbreak and their bold response to it.

About a year or so later, Carl woke up one morning and realized: “I’m a seed salesman!”

 

Peterson in Time

1918

Oscar Peterson, Carl’s grandpa, walks to North Dakota all the way from Wisconsin. He likes what he sees, finding a job as foreman on a steam-threshing crew and a wife in Josephine Rust.

1947

Ralph and Gwen Peterson – Carl’s parents – take over the reins of what was a typical family farm at the time. They raise both crops and livestock.

1965

Specialization comes to agriculture, as Carl’s parents switch solely to growing wheat and other high-yield crops like soybeans and sunflowers.

1977

Carl and Julie head off to Iowa State University. Carl, who goes at his father’s insistence, vows to finish his degree early so he misses as little farming as possible.

1978

Carl and Julie meet as co-directors of a fraternity/sorority musical production. They’re soul mates now, but, Carl recalls, they had very different ideas about how that play should be done.

1981

The graduates marry after the fall harvest and, with only a couple of old guitars and a ’77 Gremlin as assets, buy 300 acres near Prosper, ND.

1983

A farm crisis grips the nation. While lawmakers haggle over a solution, the media serves up a steady diet of farm foreclosures.

1985

Julie leverages her marketing degree and finds work at Great Plains Software. The company’s culture-first philosophy makes a huge impact on her and, eventually, Peterson Farms Seed.

1993

Just as the farm crisis shows signs of letting up, wheat scab hits the Red River Valley. Elevators, not sure what to do, shut down.

1993

Carl and Julie invest in several pieces of cleaning equipment in hopes of saving their crops.

1994

The couple spends the entire winter – November through March – not only cleaning their own wheat, but their neighbors’.

1995

Armed with the cleaning equipment, Carl and Julie decide to go into the seed business. They soon find out that conditioning the seed is the easy part.

Sven and Ole varieties

1995

Looking for a way to stand out against established seed companies, Carl persuades Julie to try humor. They call their first seed Ole. Sven and Lena soon follow.

1996

Julie models the growing company’s culture after Great Plains Software. It’s a team approach that rallies everybody around one single mission: helping growers be successful.

1996

Carl wakes up one day and realizes: “I’m a seed salesman.”

1997

Peterson Farms Seed grows neighbor by neighbor, township by township, county by county.

1999

Carl and Julie never waver from their original promise; they sell no seed that they wouldn’t be happy to plant on their own farm.

2001

Peterson Farms Seed continues to invest in testing. Today, they have some 20,000 replicated plots of both corn and soybeans – and is the only independent seed company doing replicated testing in the region.

2003

With the arrival of corn hybrids that can handle northern climates, Peterson Farms Seed adds corn to its product line-up.

2005

Peterson Farms Seed grows to a point where Carl doesn’t feel competent to run it. He earns a master’s degree from Purdue and a Master of Business Administration from Indiana University.

2007

Peterson University debuts. It’s an effort to go beyond the seed to help growers maximize their yields.

2010

Peterson launches Plus20, a program that helps farmers find ways to add 20 bushels per acre to their yields.

2012

With more than 30 employees – the company expands its headquarters.

2015

Peterson Farms Seed celebrates its 20th anniversary.