Vikima Seed plans to expand local options for seed conditioning

By COOKSON BEECHER

Capital Press

Ag Alternatives' recent purchase of Sorensen Seeds and its full-line seed-conditioning facility will enhance the company's ability to process and ship seed crops, general manager Ty Clark said.

Both companies are based in Skagit County, Wash.

Ag Alternatives Inc., which currently produces about 2,000 acres of vegetable seed crops in Oregon and Washington, is a subsidiary of Vikima Seed. Based in Denmark, Vikima is the leading producer of vegetable seeds in Europe and the United States.

Both Jim Sorensen, who founded Sorensen Seed with his wife, Hilda, in 1997, and Clark say the acquisition will benefit vegetable-seed growers in Western Washington and Oregon's Willamette Valley. That's because customers increasingly ask for value-added services such as precision grading, film coating and custom packaging.

In a recent visit to Sorensen Seeds, Michael Andersen, managing director of Vikima, said adding a first-class seed-conditioning facility in the Northwest is an important step in the company's worldwide business plan.

Plans are also under way to bring in additional seed-cleaning equipment to enhance and expand the facility's capacity.

In the future, all of the Vikima Seed operations in the Pacific Northwest will be consolidated under the name, Vikima USA.

For Clark, the purchase of Sorensen Seeds is a bright spot for agriculture because it represents the value Vikima places on the region.

"It's making a commitment to be here for the long haul," Clark said.

Last year, when Vikima purchased Ag Alternatives, the plan was to locate an office and warehouse in the Albany, Ore., area, where it could expand its seed-conditioning services.

But with the acquisition of Sorensen Seeds, seed conditioning will be done in Skagit County, with an office and equipment storage facility in Albany.

Clark said the company will also need some receiving stations in Oregon so seed can be transferred to Washington state.

Currently, seed is conditioned at several locations in Oregon since many grass-seed growers in that state have seed-conditioning facilities.

But Clark said that in the long run this new arrangement will benefit the Willamette Valley's vegetable-seed growers because Vikima will bring in specialized equipment and the facility will condition vegetable seeds only.

"This way, the Oregon growers won't have to fit their schedules into the grass-seed growers' schedules," he said.

With its eye on continued growth, Vikima Seed, which was formed in 1983, produces, sells and markets more than 150 selected standard vegetable seed qualities for distributors internationally.

Skagit County seed grower Kirby Johnson, president of the Puget Sound Seed Growers Association, said the new arrangement will save growers the expense of shipping seeds off to other locations.

"It's got to be good," he said. "It's a more vertically integrated system. It gives us local control and that helps ensure quality."

Staff writer Cookson Beecher is based in Sedro-Woolley, Wash. E-mail: cbeecher@capitalpress.com.

 

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