Promotion of Crop Diversification and Research of Speciality Crop Markets for Western North Dakota
Our project has been successful, but we have had to make changes along the way because reality got in the way of our plans. It was our intention to hire an intern in the spring of 1998 to begin work on the marketing plan. We interviewed some potential interns but found none that were qualified. Spring’s work began and from there we went into finalizing the financing for the project so that construction could begin in fall. Developing the financial package took longer than anticipated and construction didn’t begin until late fall. Rather then focus on finding someone for marketing we decided to hire a full time general manager. We hired John Brown, a highly experienced seed plant manager as the general manger for the business in April of 1999.
John Brown and the board of directors contacted seed companies and processing companies to do crop trials at the West Dakota Feed and Seed site at Ross. It was decided by the West Dakota Feed and Seed Board of Directors to do one large test plot on site rather than six smaller test plots because of logistics and the attraction of potential customers to the seed plant. After the test plots were planted we contacted the Minot State University marketing department to arrange for an intern for the summer. We met with MSU marketing department in mid May and they said that they would forward a proposal by June 9, 1999. The proposal never came and we were informed that the instructor who had committed to the proposal was only employed until May 30, 1999.
The test plot grew nicely and we held a field day in July. Crops grown include sunflowers, crambe, mustard, canola, lentils, barley, wheat, winter wheat, oats, safflower and durum. Participants in the field day included Agri-Pro, Interstate Seeds, NDSU Off Station, Western Plant Breeders, Dakota Growers Pasta Co., Monsanto and Zenneca. There were approximately 125 local producers in attendance. Test plots will be harvested and yield results will be measured.
– One large test plot on seed plant location rather than 6 remote sites
– Development of a web page to provide information to customers
– Create informational video next year so that we can get customer testimony
– Attend regional agricultural trade shows this winter to get information to potential customers
– Build a trade show display
– Hire a marketing intern to develop a marketing plan to market crop diversification to local producers and a marketing plant to market specialty crops to processors and end consumers.
We are learning about marketing specialty crops and crop diversification to producers and processors as we go. This is a new experience for us but we are ready for the challenge. As our business evolves we will have to start looking for ways to market the crops that we are contracting so that we can help local producers make more money.