Tucked amid the rolling grass seed fields and faded barns of the tiny town of Tangent, Ore., you’ll find a state-of-the-art sugarbeet seed processing facility with global reach.
Since 1970, Betaseed, the firm that processes sugarbeet seed here, has risen to become one of North America’s leading suppliers. Adding to Betaseed’s headquarters in Minnesota and another location in Idaho, the Tangent facility provides one arm of an intricate international supply chain. Betaseed’s operation in Tangent processes more sugarbeet seed than any other facility in the U.S.
“The Tangent facility is Betaseed’s only seed production and processing facility, so it is extremely important in Betaseed’s supply chain,” said John Enright, president of Betaseed Inc.
This supply chain keeps growers in business. About 1.2 million acres of sugarbeets are currently grown for sugar production in North America. This key crop supplies about half the nation’s sugar supply.
But sugarbeets are not just a food crop. Betaseed has also developed Energy Beet seed, used for the production of biofuels.
Nearly 70 employees keep the Tangent facility humming, and it will be expanding significantly in the near future, Enright said.
The $40 million upgrade is targeted for completion in 2016. The project includes improvements to receiving, bare seed processing, treatments and coatings and finished goods.
On a little more than 11 acres, the facility now consists of an office building, quality and research-and-development laboratories, seed processing buildings, a maintenance shop and warehousing and shipping facilities. All seed harvested for commercial use is processed, packaged and shipped directly by the Tangent facility for growers throughout North America.
Here, seeds are processed in a high-tech computerized plant. Quality assurance experts perform more than 60,000 tests on these hybrid seeds each season. No sugarbeet varieties are grown for a crop in the Willamette Valley; only seed production is located here.
“The primary objectives for the new expansion were driven by a desire to respond to market and customer demands even quicker than we had been,” said Bryan Meier, director of operations at the Tangent location. “Our new technology and automated systems support these objectives by allowing us to reach the growing regions earlier, making sure seed is in place when growers are ready to start planting.”
Growers’ needs drive Betaseed’s research efforts. Betaseed markets and sells its seed through sales agents scattered across North America in 11 sugarbeet growing regions.
“These agents collaborate with customers to identify field conditions, soil type and disease pressure, and recommend the varieties best suited to perform under the grower’s specific conditions. Betaseed’s extensive seed portfolio allows Betaseed to support growers with the best genetics for each acre maximizing every dollar that growers invest in their operations,” said Lisa Butzer, corporate marketing manager.
Current research efforts focus on increasing disease tolerance and yield.
“Our most recent successes include nematode tolerance and MultiSource rhizomania tolerance,” said Butzer.
Future breeding efforts may include developing heat, salt and drought tolerant sugarbeets, as well as additional disease and pest tolerances, Butzer said.
Betaseed’s planned expansion includes hiring new research and breeding team members over the next few years.
“For the future, Betaseed will continue to focus on bringing value to sugarbeet growers through innovative solutions through traits, seed treatments and increased yield,” Butzer said.