Stengel Seed and Grain Provides Tour of Organic Seed Processing

Stengel Seed and Grain, owned by brothers Doug and Tim Stengel, has been a food-grade organic grain cleaner for over 40 years. On Sept. 13, 2019 Doug Stengel hosted a tour of their organic seed processing operation in Milbank as part of the SDSPA tours.

They clean, process and package grains, beans, flax, legumes and other seeds for the organic food industry. With six cleaning lines and four color sorters, the company can run different products simultaneously to efficiently meet the needs of customers.

Stengels’ father and grandfather began grain cleaning their seeds while farming. While the process of cleaning grain has not changed greatly over the last 100 years, the equipment used has greatly improved, incorporating modern technology. The food industry requires near perfection in product purity. Stengel Seed and Grain frequently builds customer specific machinery to achieve the purities the toll customers require.

Stengel Seed and Grain plant receives grain trucked from growers in the Midwest and Canada. The product is cleaned and packaged according to customer specifications in sizes of 25 lb up to 1,000 kg totes or true bulk loads. Orders are sent throughout the U.S. as well as to Europe and Japan.

Stengel Seed and Grain hires and retains excellent employees who develop skills in specific areas and develop relationships with customers over a period of many years.  Andrea Bohn, Quality Assurance Manager, and Mike Robertson, Plant Manager, conducted an informative tour from seed arriving at the plant to the final product being shipped to major soup companies.

“Our products are on shelves across the country but Stengel Seed and Grain is always the ingredient provider, not the distributor,“ said Bohn.

Robertson stated many of these crops are windrowed during harvest, therefore increasing the level of impurities. When watching the seed processing lines it is evident the raw seed arrives in different levels of impurities. It is amazing to watch the system clean the seed to 99% or better pure.

Producer Shane Martin discussed his relationship with Stengel Seed and Grain. He produces organic barley in Grant and Roberts County, SD. Stengel Seed and Grain processes the raw barley to pearl barley. Pearl barley is the most common form of barley. It’s still chewy and nutritious, but less so than hulled barley because the outer husk and bran layers have been removed. Barley allows Martin flexibility with his crop rotation and soil management.

The tour was informative and a good educational opportunity. The explanation of the food chain in the organic industry is insightful information to expand our markets.