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Production plant continues to grow throughout its 75 year history

By Jean Caspers-Simmet

Date Modified: 10/03/2013 4:32 PM

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ALGONA, Iowa —Construction on the Pioneer corn production plant started in 1937 on the northern outskirts of Algona, according to a 75th anniversary timeline.

Arrangements were made with local farmers to grow 800 to 900 acres of seed the following year, and the Algona plant went into operation in the fall of 1938. Corn was planted in hills in 40-inch rows and check planted so the field could be cultivated both lengthwise and crosswise.

Handpicking was the standard way of harvesting corn in the mid to late 1930s. Mechanical picking was just being implemented when the Algona location was built. Seed ears went through the plant in metal baskets in the early years. Employees hand fed the seed ear into a shelling machine one at a time.

In 1960 additional warehouse space was added and in 1962 a large cold storage was added to the west of the exiting buildings. A portion of the original building was removed to make space for a new sorting building and another dryer and additional warehouse space was added. The plant handled seed from more than six times the original acreage. The dryer capacity increased to 51,000 bushels from the original 10,000 in 1938. A staff of approximately 30 employees operated the plant with an additional 50 to 60 part-time at harvest.

In 1988 and 1989, the 1943 tile warehouse and 1974 sorting building were removed to make room for expansion. The green corn receiving area was added with a new sorting building, a new sheller building with cob storage, a new bulk building for shelled corn, another warehouse expansion and dry expansion to the middle dryer. City water was also pulled into the plant.

In 1992 the last of the 1938 plant was torn down, and an addition was added to the sizing tower.

The Warehouse Management System was implemented in 1996. Bar coded seed tags were introduced in 1997, and a robot was installed in the repacking area.

In 2010 the dry style treater was removed and replaced with bowl style treaters. This required the roof to be raised. The repackaged area was also remodeled with a new robot replacing the original.

Today, the DuPont Pioneer Production facility has 72 full-time and 150 seasonal employees. There are more than 800 detasseling employees. The plant conditions more than 1 million units each year.