Century old seed company to close - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Century old seed company to close

WAUNAKEE (WKOW) -- A hundred years of farming history in Waunakee is on the auction block.

If you're not into farming, you probably don't know about Kaltenberg seed. But it's a legend in the farming community.

Those who've worked with the Kaltenbergs say it's a sad day and a sign of the times. But the days of customized service appear to be over.

"We try to specialize the seed to each individual farmer and the big companies do one pedigree and do 30 thousand bushels of it." says president David Kaltenberg.

Since 1906, Kaltenberg Seed in Waunakee has been providing that specialized spark in the dirt.

"the business has been around 104 years now," said Kaltenberg, "started by my granddad handed down to my father and now down to me, so it's sad to see."

They developed seed hybrids in the 1930's that increased farmer's yields by 30 to 40 percent.

The seed company survived the great depression, and thrived in the post world war two era thanks to innovation. But even it couldn't handle the current economic environment.

"In the last 10-15 years, the change comes constantly," said family friend and farmer Brent Albers, "and it's hard for a lot of the smaller companies like this to keep up with the changes."

So, the tractors, planters and harvesters are all up for sale.

The spoils of a century of hard work and good relationships.

"We've had a lot of tremendous farmers and friends and they've been very supportive of this business and they understood it takes the little guys to help them out and it's sad to see a company this size go down and be done." Said Kaltenberg. "It's just tough, very very tough."

Kaltenberg says there's a number of reasons for the closure. Besides the economic climate, he has had some serious health issues. The company says it plans to make all its spring seed deliveries but those will be their last.

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