Kauffman Seeds Inc.

Locally targeted seed genetics and select cover crops for producers in the Plains
Written by: 
Molly Shaw
Produced by: 
Drew Taylor

The best quality seed for the customer’s need — this has been the motto at Kauffman Seeds Inc. in Haven, Kansas, since the company took root in 1965. Founded by Edward Kauffman as an alfalfa seed cleaning business, Kauffman Seeds has evolved into a full-service seed business, selling and marketing row crops, cover crops and forages under the brand Midland Genetics. Kauffman Seeds has its own seed treatment and conditioning plant and more than 10,000 acres dedicated to contract growing.

In 1972, certified wheat seed was added to Kauffman Seed’s lineup when Jerry and Lois Wyse took over the company reins from Edward. Through the 1980s, soybean production and processing grew and Kauffman Seeds added soybeans, along with seed wheat and alfalfa as the mainstays of the operation. In 1995, Midland Genetics was born as a merger of several seed companies to launch a breeding program for Roundup Ready Soybeans. Kauffman Seeds added corn, grain sorghum and forages to the selling lines under Midland Genetics.

Kauffman Seeds Inc.

In 2005, Tom Clayman and Dustin Miller purchased Kauffman Seeds and remain co-owners of the business. Since acquiring Kauffman Seeds, Tom and Dustin have added more cover crops to better meet the needs of their customer base.

Dustin has been with the company since 1992 “When I started as sort of a low man on the totem pole,” recounts Dustin. “At that point in time we were producing and cleaning soybeans. In 1995, the development of Midland Genetics allowed us to go full-bore with our own genetics. We’ve been involved in certified wheat since the early ‘70s. Wheat and alfalfa were the driving forces in the start of Kauffman Seeds and still are today, but we have developed more in corn, soybeans, grain sorghum, forages and cover crops.”

More room for cover crops

Kauffman Seeds' decision to make the push into more cover crops was more necessity than choice. “We’re faced with a huge problem in agriculture today,” explains Tom. “We haven’t done the right things with our soils and we need to build them up so they’re ready for the next generation. Because of this, cover crops are the new face of ag and are really going to be the focus in the next 20 years.”

“We’ve been doing cover crops for about 12 years now,” continues Tom. “It started with a nitrogen-fixing commodity and we’ve grown from there and now we do many special blends. Changing the way we do things and our mindset is the biggest thing and more producers are adopting this idea.”

Recently, Kauffman Seeds hosted more than 400 producers to learn more about implementing cover crops and to promote row crops. “In August 2015 we teamed up with the local water district and invited an expert to do a cover crop presentation,” says Tom. “At lunch we served more than 200 people, four hours later we served another 200 for supper and discussed row crops and then cover crops. This is quite a feat and we’re really pleased to share this knowledge. If people are willing to learn, we’ll continue to help educate them.”

Dustin and Tom are excited about a new facility Kauffman Seeds purchased two years ago, which is allowing for more cover crop testing. “We’re compiling a huge amount of data and will be able to do more testing with this new site,” says Dustin. “We can now stockpile inventory. We didn’t have this capability in the past. We can run longer hours and ship more effectively through the busy season. At some points in the year, we have three cleaning lines running at a time.” This is important, particularly in the case of winter wheat, which is on a rapid 60-day turnaround time.

Building customer confidence

Kauffman Seeds works with each customer, regardless of the size of their operation, on an individual basis. The company works to meet customers’ needs based on past and future crops and soil improvement goals. “All of our corn, soybeans and grain sorghums are testing to handle our south central Kansas hot, dry environment,” says Dustin.

Backed by proven genetics and trait technologies from Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and Syngenta, customers can feel confident in purchasing from Midland Genetics. Armed with these leading trait technologies, the concept Kauffman Seeds offers as a huge value point is “locally adapted genetics,” with the freedom of choice to select technologies and applications that make the most sense for specific farms.

“We have a huge variety of crops to offer,” says Dustin. “And not only do we sell these items, we also have a 42-acre test plot, where we put out what we sell and use it for demonstration. If someone wants to know what a product looks like or how it grows before they buy, they can walk out to our test plot and see it.”

In terms of corn and soybeans, Kauffman Seeds has test plots scattered all over southern Kansas. “Our slogan is ‘locally adapted,’” says Tom. “Unlike some of the larger companies, we’ll specifically grow a variety that works only in south central Kansas, right down to a specific county. We pinpoint our research to specific locations.”

For such specific solutions, Kauffman Seeds serves a broad territory — spanning all the way from eastern Colorado to southern Kansas, Oklahoma, and the Texas Panhandle. Locally speaking, Kauffman Seeds is a member of the Kansas Crop Improvement Association (KCIA), a not-for-profit, member-based organization that serves as the official seed and plant certification agency of the State of Kansas. In addition to seed certification services, KCIA offers networking and educational opportunities, consulting, auditing, farm/field inspection and laboratory testing services for the seed industry and other crop production-related businesses.

“KCIA provides all Kansas-certified growers with a third-party inspection to better ensure quality standards,” explains Tom. “Kauffman Seeds uses the KCIA lab for all of its seed testing. The lab is the official lab for the state, so we choose to send all tests through it.”

Moving forward, Kauffman Seeds continues to make room for greater capacity and more testing plots. “It’s all in an effort to show customers we really care,” says Tom. “We’re aiming for 110 percent in all of our efforts and we’re willing to look at new solutions; we’re not afraid to try something different. We always strive to get the customer what they want.” Kauffman Seeds Inc. continues to deliver the trusted, locally adapted genetics that help producers increase yields and success in the field.

Strategic Partnership(s): 
Oklahoma Genetics