Bottolfson brothers named 2000 Premier Seed Growers
The Bottolfson brothers, Leonard and Richard, who have farmed in partnership near Vermillion for 40 years, have been named Premier Seed Growers for 2000 by the South Dakota Crop Improvement Association.
Recognition was made Dec. 15 at an awards luncheon during the Ag Horizons Conference in Pierre. Laird Larson of Clark, president of the SDCIA, made the introduction and presentation.
The Bottolfsons have a long history of working with the S.D. Crop Improvement Association and other seed improvement experts from South Dakota State University. The brothers raised certified seed, mostly oats and soybeans, selling them either from their farms or through seed dealers.
Over almost 30 years, the Bottolfson devoted a total of 4,100 acres to certified seed production.
The two brothers, ages 21 and 22, got a rude introduction into adulthood and farming when their father, Elmer, died young in 1955, leaving behind a widow and eight children.
Leonard and Richard were the oldest, so they had to keep the farm going.
They farmed together, living nearby and even owning their land together, until splitting up the operation seven years ago when their own sons began farming.
Their uncle raised certified seed, and through him they were introduced to Bill Erion, from the SDSU Plant Science Department, who promoted certified seed. Later others, like J. Duane Colburn, and County Agents R. L. Venard and Robert Schurrer, all now retired, also encouraged them to raise certified seed.
�Schurrer encouraged me to raise certified oats and soybeans in an attempt to find a better market for our crops,� said Richard.
�Erion had some Corsoy soybeans, a brand new variety, and he wanted them increased. Bill brought them down here, and we increased them,� he continued. �He had only a few bags of seed. We spread them out over as many acres as possible to get as much seed as possible.�
�In 1975, we raised more than 5,000 bushels of soybean seed for Arrowhead Seeds of Watertown,� Leonard said. �This was some of the first soybean seed planted in that area.
�In 1977, Arrowhead Seeds shipped three boxcars full of our certified Noble seed oats overseas to Portugal,� he added.
Raising certified seed �worked out great for us,� said Richard. �We sold every bushel of oats we ever raised as seed. Soybeans also worked out well for us.�
The extra work involved in maintaining genetic purity and freedom from weed seeds �paid out� in the premiums paid for higher quality of certified seed.
�We wouldn�t have raised oats if we couldn�t sell it as seed, because it wasn�t profitable,� said Richard. �We always had good luck. All the new oats � we tried them all. They were all good the first year.�
The S.D. Crop Improvement Association had a record of the varieties grown by the Bottolfsons over the years. Varieties named will be familiar both to old-time and modern growers.
Oats included Holden, Kelsey, Kota, Burnett, Chief, Otee, Noble, Spear, Froker, Lang, Lyon, Nodaway 70, Bates, Lancer, Moore, Ogle, Hytest, Trucker, Don, Settler, Troy and Jerry.
Soybean varieties included Amsoy, Wayne, Hark, Corsoy, Wells, Sloan, Wells II, Corsoy 79, Gnome, Century 86, Elgin 87, Hack, Century 84 and Sturdy.
Also on the list was a field of Sage hard red winter wheat.
The Bottolfsons also raised hogs, fed cattle and grew row crops before going into partial retirement.
Both were educated in a country school in Clay County, Vermillion High School, and Richard graduated from The University of South Dakota.
Leonard served in the U.S. Army in Korea in 1953 and 1954.
Richard was in the South Dakota Army National Guard for eight years and served 18 months on active duty when called up during the Berlin Crisis.
Leonard and his wife, Mary, have four children and seven grandchildren. He is a member of St Agnes Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus, Fraternal Order of Eagles, American Legion, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, currently serving as secretary-treasurer. Leonard also is current treasurer of the Clay County Crop Improvement Association. He is a past director of the Clay Rural Water System.
Richard and his wife, Darlene, have two children and five grandchildren. Richard is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Fraternal Order of Eagles, director of the Clay County Park Association, director of the S.D. Crop Improvement Association, representing the Southeast District, and also is a director and agent for the Farm Mutual Insurance Company of Clay County. He also has served as a board member of the local Crop Improvement Association and is a past 15-year member of the Vermillion Board of Education.