Grass committed to what he does best

Seed business fits right in with livestock

By Janet Kubat Willette

LEROY, Minn. -- John Grass Jr. loves his job.

"I wouldn't want to do anything else," the Mower County farmer said. "It's exciting every morning."


Grass raises Simmental and crossbred cattle, finishes hogs, runs Grass and Sons Seed and grows corn, certified oats and soybeans on 3,200 acres.

Son Bob is a partner in the hogs, cattle and the crops. Son Mike and a nephew, Clarke Nelson, are also partners in the crop operation. Son Dave is plant manager of the seed company.

Grass and Sons Seed started 25 years ago in a corncrib on a landlord's farm, Grass said, where they cleaned oats for the local elevator. In 1992, they moved just north of LeRoy to a new setup where they clean and bag organic and commercial soybeans and small grains for a global market.

He and wife, Sharon, are also associate owners, along with 11 others, of Gold Country Seed of Hutchinson.

Spring is a busy time for Grass, not only because farmers are buying their oats and calling to check on prices, but also because it's calving time. About 80 percent of their 100 cows calve from January through May. The remaining 20 percent calve in September.

The cows are on pasture over the summer and Grass rents pastures as far as 30 miles away. In the winter, the cows are sheltered in barns.

Each fall, Grass-Lunning Simmentals has a production sale of open and bred heifers. Bulls and steers are sold via private treaty.

They have done embryo work with their cows since the early 1990s to get higher quality calves, Bob said. They have a 60 percent conception rate with embryo implants.


John Grass first purchased Simmentals in 1979 for their disposition. He wanted a breed that was easier for his children to work with while they were showing.

"It was a new breed at that time," he said.

Prior to that, he had purebred Angus. He also had purebred Spotted Poland China and Duroc hogs and milked cows.

Grass, a third generation farmer, has owned livestock since 1951 when he got his first hog through a Hormel Foundation program. The program gave youth a bred gilt, and in the fall, the recipient sent two hogs to Hormel in payment for the gilt. In 1998, he sold the purebred animals. Now, he and Bob custom feed market hogs.

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