Willmar, Benson men among the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association award winners honored earlier this month

Minnesota Crop Improvement Association on Jan. 12 presented the Achievement in Crop Improvement Award to Paul Kjolhaug, part owner of the MayerSeedLine company, located in Willmar. Kurt Flegel, of Benson, was named a Premier Seed Grower.

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WILLMAR — A Willmar man and a Benson man were among the honorees Jan. 12 when the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association conducted its annual meeting.

Paul Kjolhaug, part-owner of the MayerSeedLine company of Willmar, received the Achievement in Crop Improvement Award from the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association, according to a news release from the association.

Paul Kjolhaug
Paul Kjolhaug, part owner of the MayerSeedLine company located in Willmar, on Jan. 12, 2023, received the Achievement in Crop Improvement Award, the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association's highest honor.
Contributed / Courtesy of Paul Kjolhaug

The award has been presented annually since 1972, recognizing exemplary service to the seed industry, as well as outstanding leadership in agriculture.

Kjolhaug has spent most of his life involved in agriculture, according to the news release.

After earning a degree in agronomy from the University of Minnesota, he joined the staff of Northern Farm and Garden (the predecessor of Norfarm Seeds). He later worked for Interstate Payco, where he managed seed production of hybrid corn, sunflowers, and soybean seed.


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For the last 21 years, Kjolhaug has been part owner of the MayerSeedLine, a seed production and brokerage company in Willmar.

He served six years on the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association board of directors, including a term as board chair.

The Minnesota Crop Improvement Association also recognized four Premier Seed Grower awardees, including Kurt Flegel of Benson.

Each year since 1928, this award has recognized individuals or partners, active in the association, who are involved in quality seed production and who provide excellent service to the seed industry.

Kurt Flegel
Kurt Flegel, of Benson, received the Premier Seed Grower Award on Jan. 12, 2023, from the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association. He has been in the seed business for 40 years and is currently the plant manager of Syngenta in Danvers.
Contributed / © Minnesota Crop Improvement Association

According to the news release, Flegel has been in the seed business for 40 years. He is currently the plant manager at Syngenta in Danvers.

He earned a degree in ag economics from North Dakota State University. Following graduation, Flegel took a position with Stauffer Seeds in Fargo, North Dakota.

In 1983, he transferred to the Danvers production plant. He was involved in the sunflower program and later soybeans when Stauffer merged with Northrup King.

In 2001, as soybean acres moved north and west, Syngenta switched the facility to a soybean-only plant, to handle the increasing demand for domestic seed production.


The others honored as Premier Seed Growers are Lon Baldus, of Grand Meadow, and Dean Johnson and Kurt Aakre, both of Karlstad.

The recipients of the Honorary Premier Seed Grower Award this year were Denise Thiede, a section manager in the Plant Protection Division of the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, responsible for seed, noxious weed, hemp and biotechnology; and Dave Grafstrom, a researcher at the University of Minnesota’s Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics.

This award, presented annual since 1930, recognizes individuals not directly involved in seed production but who have actively supported the seed industry, the association and their local community.

All the awards were presented at the Minnesota Crop Improvement Association’s 120th annual meeting, conducted at the Bigwood Event Center in Fergus Falls.

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