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  • Elia Romano

Introducing the new, stronger Blue River organic seed

By Elia Romano

Albert Lea Seed has been in business for 100 years now, and I have been working here for 25 of those.  As we wrap up the 2023 season and begin getting ready for 2024, it really feels like we’re still just getting started. In 2022, we purchased Blue River Organic Seed because we saw value in the legacy of the brand Maury Johnson and the rest of the dedicated staff there built over the years. Our organic corn and soybean line, Viking, was very well known in the Midwest and had really good performance from East to West and North to South, but the Blue River dealers had great relationships built up with organic farmers over years and years. Initially, we rolled out combined products from each brand and called it “Viking & Blue River Organic Seed.” It wasn’t fancy, but it worked. After we survived the first season, we took a step back and thought it would be in the best interest of organic farmers to have a single national organic brand. We took the best attributes of Blue River organic seed and the best of Viking organic and put them together. 

We’d like to invite you to meet the new, stronger Blue River lineup of corn, soybeans, and alfalfa. Backed by Albert Lea seed, enhanced by Viking, and brought to you by your local dealer, we’re confident it’s the single strongest lineup of organic farm seed in the nation. 

You may wonder if this is just another fancy new logo to cover up the dark cloud of another agriculture company merger. It is not. The two brands combined can do more to advance organic agriculture than either could independently. We’re putting the best of Albert Lea Seed’s Viking organic research program together with what Blue River had established to expand research dedicated to organic farming. 

Here are a few things that we are excited about and that we hope will have a positive impact on organic farmers.

  1. By combining the sales of Organic Viking and Blue River Organic seed, we will have more leverage to lobby for access to genetics for organic farmers from the companies that license out germplasm.

  2. In 2023, we began breeding corn for the first time (developing new inbreds) and new hybrid crosses specifically for organic farmers. By controlling the selection and advancement of hybrids with characteristics that are specific to organic farming practices (emergence, tolerance to mechanical weed control, rapid canopy, etc.), we believe that very soon, Blue River will launch brand new, proprietary genetics that will bring real value to organic farmers. 

  3. This year, we have expanded our overall replicated testing network – the more testing/evaluation we do, the better products we can bring forward for organic farmers. In 2022, we had 29 corn locations in the Midwest with replicated testing. We have 39 locations from Nebraska to Maryland and North Dakota to Arkansas with replicated corn testing (92 replicated trials at those 39 locations). All of this research fuels new products, insights, and advancements that are aimed at supporting organic farming.

  4. For 2024, we are launching an improved organic-compliant seed corn coating called RiseUp – the result of extensive lab and field trials. This product gives organic farmers one more tool for protection and helps get corn seedlings out of the ground faster. 

  5. We are also investing in new partnerships to make new genetics available to organic farmers. One example that comes to mind is our “SilageMaster” hybrids for 2024. These are silage-specific and superior to anything we have offered in the past to deliver more tonnage per acre and more milk per ton. 

I could go on and on about all of the exciting new products that we’re tailoring to organic farming systems. At the end of the day, this new, stronger Blue River brand is exciting because of what it means for farmers. In our 100-plus-year history, we’ve always been guided by what’s right for farmers. When we were evaluating this opportunity, we kept asking ourselves one question above all others, “Does this benefit organic farmers?” I was convinced then and am still convinced that the answer is “Yes!”Thank you, 

Elia Romano is the Co-Owner, Director of Sales for Albert Lea Seed - Home of Blue River organic seed 

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