Cloverleaf Farms, Inc. is a privately owned and operated hybrid seed corn production company located in elk Point, South Dakota. The Curry family has produced hybrid seed in Union County, South Dakota since 1935. Seed corn production was begun by J.J. Curry in 1935, the third and fourth generation Curry’s are still producing the highest quality seed corn for farmers today. The seed we produce is bagged and conditioned at the Cloverleaf Farms facility. In addition to the seed corn production and seed corn conditioning, Cloverleaf Farms also provides warehouse storage for bagged and bulk retail seed.
The history of seed corn production traces back to Joseph J. Curry (J.J.) and the year 1935. J.J. was the grandson of an early homesteader, Patrick Curry from Taum, Ireland, who came to Elk Point in June 1861. A graduate of Elk Point High School in 1911, J.J. worked two years before taking agriculture classes at Iowa State College, Ames, Iowa in 1913. After a year at Ames, he returned to Elk Point and began farming with his father John C Curry. In January 1935, JJ Curry took a bus to Ames to attend an Ag short course for one week. The professors at Iowa State spoke of a recent scientific development called hybrid corn. They believed that one farmer in each township would produce seed corn for his neighbors, not envisioning the large seed companies of today. In the spring pf 1935, J.J. started selling hybrid seed corn to his neighbors and friends in Elk Point. In 1938, J.J. Curry began seed corn production at Elk Point. J.J. Curry has the distinction of having the first field of certified hybrid seed corn in South Dakota
In 1939, J.J. Curry built his first seed-conditioning house, which served as the seed plant until 1967 when the current seed-conditioning tower was built. The seed corn was allowed to dry in the field as long as possible prior to harvest. The seed corn ears were picked by hand and put into a triple box wagon pulled by a team of horses. The ears were put in a wooden crib for further drying. The first two years of seed production, the seed ears were shelled by a one hole, hand powered corn sheller. The shelled corn was graded by using a Hart-Carter sizer, which separates the flats and rounds into small, medium and large kernel sizes. The graded seed corn was treated with a fungicide and put into a cloth bag holding 56 pounds. The bags were valued by farm wives who used them for dishtowels and clothing. Times were difficult on the farms and nothing was wasted. Curry’s first ear corn dryer was built in 1943 during World War II and is believed to be the first corn dryer in South Dakota. The heating unit was a natural gas furance used to heat homes. In 1945, a Campbell seed corn dryer was installed. The original furnace was later sold to the Elk Point Congregational Church for heating their church building.
The fifties brought sons, Jim and Ed, home to work with J.J. following their service in the Navy and Army. Jim graduated from SDSU, and Ed graduated from Iowa State. The seed corn company was incorporated in 1968 with Jim and Ed as Vice-president and President. The seed corn company continued to grow with newer varieties and more customers planting the newly developed single cross corn adaptable to high yield environments. In 1975, the office was built at the seed plant location and the business moved from Ed’s house to a modern, convenient office building.
Ed and Jackie Curry’s sons, Bill and David, returned to Elk Point after both sons graduated from Iowa State University. Bill graduated in Agronomy and David graduated in Ag Business. Bill returned home and went into production in 1978. David returned in 1980 as sales manager. Kevin Curry, son of Jim Curry, has been the conditioning and bagging manager since 1986 after graduating from Montana State University. Progress at the facility continued with bulk storage capacity increasing in 1980, 1982, 1986, 2005, 2013 and 2022. The seed conditioning tower was remodeled in 1981 and completely updated in 2000 and 2020 with new computer electronics and conditioning equipment. In 2014 a new bagging scale with a refuge blender and robotic bag stacker were added to the facility. The seed corn dryer and receiving area for green corn was updated in 1999 to compliment the dryers that were build in 1972, 1974, and 1988 with upgrades in 1996 and again in 2012. The warehouses were built in 1960, 1980, 1988, 2013 and 2022 to accommodate increased sales.
The Fourth Generation
Curry Seed Company continued producing and selling seed corn under the Curry Seed name until 2008. In 2008, the production arm of the Curry family seed corn business was renamed as Cloverleaf Farms, Inc., and the Curry family continues to produce seed corn today. The fourth generation of Curry’s is now included in the seed corn production business. Bill Curry’s son, Brian returned to Elk Point in 2008 with an agronomy degree from the University of Minnesota. Brian brings an understanding of the use of new technology in raising seed corn. The fourth generation of Curry’s choosing to return to the family business of seed corn production means Cloverleaf Farms has the sixth generation of family to actually farm the same ground since 1861. Farming has been our heritage in Elk Point for over 150 years. We are proud to have Brian join the production team. This demonstrates the continued dedication to providing the highest standards of quality for seed corn produced by the Curry family and Cloverleaf Farms.