Legacy Seeds continues to grow with construction of new research facility

Dan Hansen
Surrounded by members of the sales team and other staff, David Huset (left) and Bruce Ceranske prepare to break ground for the Legacy Seeds new alfalfa breeding and research campus.

WAUPACA – Legacy Seeds, Inc, the industry’s only independent alfalfa breeder, is moving to serve more customers in North America and globally.

Following ground breaking earlier in October, construction began on a new alfalfa breeding and research campus on a 25-acre site east of the Waupaca Industrial Park.

“We’re excited to continue to invest in our alfalfa breeding program and research,” Legacy Seeds co-owner and president Bruce Ceranske, told members of the company’s sales force and others gathered for the ground breaking.

During the ground-breaking ceremony, David Huset, Legacy’s director of alfalfa research, who helped design the facility, remarked, “We will have a state-of-the-art facility to ensure that we can continue to provide products for many years to come.”

Dave Robison, alfalfa product manager, said he was pleased that the new facility will also enable the company to host customers from around the world. “This will let our customers see and better understand how we’re working to bring them more productive alfalfa varieties,” he added.

Legacy history

Legacy Seeds was founded in 1999 by Steve Jenson, Bruce Ceranske and Tyler Lee. After working for other corporate seed businesses, they began looking for ways to develop and enhance the products using their years of knowledge and experience.

The company began its research and alfalfa breeding program in 2000, with the addition of research director David Huset, who was with WL Research for 22 years, and has bred hundreds of alfalfa varieties for seed companies in the U.S., Canada and South America

A research farm was established near Madison. The company’s Idaho seed plant was leased in 2002, and additional facilities were secured in Waupaca. 

In 2004, Legacy Seeds acquired all essential corn and soybean licenses to launch the Legacy Brand of corn and soybeans, with the corn and soybean business growing 50 percent since 2007.

Family business

Ceranske stressed that Legacy Seeds is a family-run business, with members working in the fields and laboratory to provide customers with a dependable line of high-performing seed products. 

“During our first seven years in business, I spent much of my time in coveralls packing and shipping orders,” he recalled.

“We call ourselves the ‘“Back-to-Basics Seed Company,”’ because we pursue a simple, somewhat nostalgic goal: Every day we strive to provide our customers with cream-of-the-crop seed genetics developed by our experienced researchers and supported by our friendly, knowledgeable customer-service team,” he said.

Today Legacy Seeds has offices in Scandinavia, Wis., and in Nampa, Idaho. The company currently has some of the leading alfalfa Germplasm in the industry.

Plot tour

Huset conducted a brief tour of the alfalfa plots currently growing on the site. “After two years in the breeding nursery, I’ll choose the plants i think are the best,” he said. “I’ll probably start out with 800 plants, but may get down to 80 or 100 of the best ones for yield, digestibility and persistence.”

Legacy Seeds Research Director David Huset points out some of the alfalfa varieties in the test plot at the company’s Waupaca research site.

Those plants are sent to the company’s facility in Idaho where they’re planted in an area that’s 15 by 20 feet, and covered with a net. “We’ll get between four and six pounds of breeder seed, and I’ll get a pound of that back to put in various field trails around the state and pick out the winners,” said Huset. 

“Because we operate on a smaller scale than many companies, we tend to pay closer attention to details than others might,” he said. “They may be doing 80-to-100 variety experiments, while we’re doing 10. We have test fields in different regions of the state to test in different soil types.”

Ceranske noted that soil quality played a key role in selecting the site for their new research campus. 

“We wanted to move our main alfalfa breeding and research closer to our main sales facility in Scandinavia, so we sought out a local farm with particularly good soil for alfalfa that has good drainage, and allows plant roots to get down to moisture.”

Robison emphasized that Legacy Seeds is continually striving to help customers become more profitable.  

“We want to help dairy and alfalfa producers to be as profitable as possible – much of that profit equation is managing the top varieties the best way,” he stressed. “When times are tough and milk prices are low, the extra $300 an acre farmers can get from our alfalfa can be really important to their bottom line.”

In addition to a laboratory, the new facility will include a greenhouse that will allow for two breeding cycles.

The company is focusing much of its research on non-GMO alfalfa. “We’re working to produce varieties that have low, or no, Round-up@ genes or foreign pollen.” said Ceranske. “There are companies that, right or wrong, don’t want any GMO traits in their products, and that’s becoming an important market for us.”

Legacy Seeds will also conduct corn, soybean, and wheat research on the campus that will be the main location for product tours for Legacy Brand dealers and customers. More information is available at www.legacyseeds.com or by calling 866-791-6390.