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Cargill opens new canola seed research and development facility in Fort Collins

Bridgett Weaver
Reporter
Cargill research assistant Eddie Chao shows off her workspace on Thursday. Chao helps in the genetics department at Cargill, testing the seeds for any unwanted genetic changes.
Bridgett Weaver/bweaver@greeleytribune.com |

New Fort Collins Cargill building specs

» The 45,700-square-foot facility in Fort Collins houses 48 employees

» 9,400 square feet of laboratory space

» 15,800-squarefoott dedicated seed wing

» 4,000-square-foot basement for seed storage

» 16,500 square feet of office space featuring meeting and conference rooms, and a training facility

McDonald’s French fries, Pepperidge Farm Goldfish, Marie Callender’s cornbread and Stacy’s Pita chips all have one thing in common: canola oil.

The oil comes from Cargill, a food and agriculture company, which recently opened a new seed research and development facility in Fort Collins.

The new seed innovation facility houses offices, lab space and seed storage, which were previously spread out across four other buildings on the East Drake Road campus.

The new building is 45,700 square feet. The vacated buildings are being renovated for future uses, including a healthy oil lab. The campus also houses 26 greenhouses, and they just broke ground on a 27th.

Cargill hosted a ribbon cutting Thursday, August 6, for the new seed innovation facility, which included a tour of the new building.

The company invested $10 million in the new research and development facility. In the new building, 48 employees will help the company select the next generation of seed varieties. Most of the employees are scientists who deal with molecular biology, genetics and greenhouse seed growth.

The chosen varieties will be sold to farmers in Canada, before Cargill buys them back to produce canola oil.

Jenny Verner, president of Cargill Specialty Seeds and Oils, said the company contracts for about 1 million acres for canola plants in Canada.

Verner said Cargill is one of the only companies that is both a seed company and an oil company. This makes research and development easier, she said, because they don’t have to outsource when an idea pops up.

Steve Stadelmaier, facility manager, said they are happy to be in the new building because it brings the team closer together.

“One of the biggest things for us is having an environment where people can come up with the next big idea,” he said.

And speaking of big ideas, it’s not a short process. An idea to improve a seed takes years to fully research and develop. From start to finish, it takes 8-10 years to put out a new seed variety, Verner said. They start with 10,000-15,000 seed varieties and slowly narrow it down to a few that make the cut.

The Fort Collins Cargill has been a seed research and development facility since 1995. Before that and since it’s opening in 1967, the facility was focused on wheat genetics.

In Fort Collins, scientists work to genetically enhance the seeds, making them more resistant to disease and other elements.

They aim to make the seeds disease resistant so the yields from the fields are larger and the oil content per seed is as high as possible.

Cargill has left room for future expansions in Fort Collins.

“We planned for the future so we’ll grow into this facility as we take on more projects,” Stadelmaier said. ❖


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