Willmar, Benson-Men Among Minnesota Crop Improvement Association Honorees Honored Earlier This Month – West Central Tribune

WILLMAR – A Willmar man and a Benson man were among the honorees Jan. 12 when the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association held its annual meeting.

Paul Kjolhaug, a partner in Willmar’s MayerSeedLine company, received the Achievement in Crop Improvement Award from the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association, according to a press release from the association.

Paul Kjolhaug, partner at Willmar-based MayerSeedLine, received the Achievement in Crop Improvement Award, the highest honor from the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association, on January 12, 2023.

Contributed / Courtesy of Paul Kjolhaug

The award has been presented annually since 1972 and recognizes exemplary service to the seed industry and outstanding leadership in agriculture.

According to the press release, Kjolhaug has spent most of his life farming.

After graduating with a degree in agronomy from the University of Minnesota, he joined the staff of Northern Farm and Garden (the predecessor of Norfarm Seeds). He later worked for Interstate Payco, where he managed seed production of hybrid corn, sunflower and soybean seeds.

Kjolhaug has been a partner in MayerSeedLine, a seed production and procurement company in Willmar, for 21 years.

He served on the board of directors of the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association for six years, including one tenure as chairman of the board.

The Minnesota Crop Improvement Association also recognized four Premier Seed Grower award winners, including Benson’s Kurt Flegel.

Each year since 1928, this award has recognized individuals or partners who are active in the association, committed to the production of quality seed and providing outstanding service to the seed industry.

Kurt Fgel
Kurt Flegel of Benson received the Premier Seed Grower Award from the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association on January 12, 2023. He has been in the seeds business for 40 years and is currently Plant Manager for Syngenta in Danvers.

Contributed / © Minnesota Crop Improvement Association

According to the press release, Flegel has been in the seed business for 40 years. He is currently Plant Manager at Syngenta in Danvers.

He earned a degree in Agricultural Economics from North Dakota State University. After graduating, Flegel took a job at Stauffer Seeds in Fargo, North Dakota.

In 1983 he moved to the Danvers manufacturing facility. He was involved in the sunflower program and later the soybean program when Stauffer merged with Northrup King.

In 2001, as soybean fields shifted north and west, Syngenta converted the facility to a soybean-only facility to meet increasing demand for domestic seed production.

The others honored as Premier Seed Growers are Lon Baldus from Grand Meadow and Dean Johnson and Kurt Aakre, both from Karlstad.

This year’s Honorary Premier Seed Grower Award recipients were Denise Thiede, Division Superintendent in the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Crop Protection Division, responsible for Seeds, Noxious Weeds, Hemp and Biotechnology; and Dave Grafstrom, a researcher in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at the University of Minnesota.

This award, presented annually since 1930, recognizes individuals who are not directly involved in seed production but have actively supported the seed industry, the association and their local community.

All awards were presented at the 120th Annual Minnesota Crop Improvement Association Convention held at the Bigwood Event Center in Fergus Falls.


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