NCI Overview

Northern Crops Institute (NCI) started in 1979 as a collaborative effort among the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana to promote, develop, and market crops grown in this four state region.  NCI is now an international meeting and learning center that unites customers, commodity traders, technical experts, and professors for discussion and education.  Since 1983, over 133 nations have sent participants to NCI who are government representatives, private industry agriculture workers, or from other commodity utilization industries.

NCI's mission is to support regional agriculture and value added processing by conducting educational and technical programs that expand and maintain domestic and international markets for northern grown crops.


Directions to NCI

NCI is located on the campus of North Dakota State University, in Fargo, ND.  The location of this unique facility is only minutes from the farm fields which yield much of the world’s food.


The Northern Crops Institute leads the effort in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota to establish northern-grown U.S. crops as the world's choice for food, feed, and value-added applications.


We believe that:

  • Crops grown in the northern-tier of the U.S. are valued by discriminating world wide customers and will stand the test of quality against competitors.
  • Respect for all cultures, economic status and individuality results in valuable relationships.
  • Effective partnerships and teamwork are critical to accomplish our mission.
  • Adapting to new trends and technologies is necessary to remaining vital to the agricultural industry.

Northern Crops Institute uses the following principles to guide its work:

  • Promote regional crop quality and uses to benefit agricultural producers and customers.
  • Provide excellent service to promote and maintain agricultural markets.
  • Foster relationships with U.S. and international partners, producers and customers.
  • Cultivate an atmosphere in which everyone feels welcome, respected and safe.
  • Use adaptive thinking and training to meet the challenges of rapidly evolving technologies and trends.

History of Northern Crops Institute


NCI's Wenger TX-52 Twin-Screw Extruder is upgraded.

Lobby renovation is completed with two new offices, a large wall graphic, new furniture and digital signage.  The Northern Crops Learning Center is a new feature that promotes the regional crops.


Karolyn Zurn, MN Soybean Growers Association, is re-elected Northern Crops Council (NCC) Chair.  Keith Peltier, ProSeed, was re-elected NCC Vice Chair.  Jennifer Tesch was elected Chair of the NCI Industry Advisory Board (IAB).  

NCI completed a major equipment upgrade at the NCI Feed Production Center.   The upgrade includes the installation of a new mixer, a new automation system, and the facility’s first micro-ingredient system.  Over 75% of the $800,000 project costs came from commodity groups and private industry donations.

A new NCI video debuted at the Feed Center Open House in August. 

The new NCI website was launched in November.


Karolyn Zurn, MN Soybean Growers Association, is elected NCC Chair.

David Hahn is hired as NCI Director of Technical Services and Business Development.

NCI co-sponsors the "Better For You Food Ingredients Showcase" in China, with the North Dakota Trade Office and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.


Bob Majkrzak, Red River Commodities, is re-elected NCC chair. Karolyn Zurn, MN Soybean Growers Association, is re-elected NCC Vice Chair. John McLean, Cargill, is re-elected IAB Chair.

National search is underway for new Technical Director.

NCI hosts course participants, trade teams and guests from 40 countries.


Mark Weber is named the 4th Director of Northern Crops Institute after a national search.

Bob Majkrzak, Red River Commodities, is elected NCC chair. Karolyn Zurn, MN Soybean Growers Association, is elected NCC Vice Chair.

Brian Sorenson resigns as NCI Director to join Dakota Specialty Milling. John Crabtree is appointed NCI Interim Director. A national search is underway for a new NCI Director.

NCI Auditorium and Conference Room are refurbished.


David Clough, ND Wheat Commission, is elected to his second term as NCC Chair. Bob Majkrzak, Red River Commodities, is re-elected vice chair.

NCI hosts course participants, trade teams and guests from 37 countries.


David Clough, ND Wheat Commission, is elected NCC Chair to replace Dan Wiltse, who died in a tragic farm accident in October. Bob Majkrzak, Red River Commodities, is elected vice chair.

Conversion of Durum Mill to a Dual-Purpose Mill was completed and a ribbon cutting celebration occurred on November 24.

New laboratory equipment includes: TA.XT2 Texture Analyzer, a two-deck Baking Oven by Hobart, a Ravioli and laminated-type Noodle pilot-scale Pasta Machine by Emiliomiti Komby, and an Oilseed Extractor by Gerhardt Soxtherm.

Dan Wiltse is elected as NCC chair, and David Clough is elected NCC vice-chair at the June 2009 Reorganizational Meeting. John McLean is re-elected IAB chair.




Brian Sorenson becomes 3rd Director of NCI in January. Dr. Mehmet Tulbek becomes NCI Technical Director. Laird Larson is re-elected as NCC chair, and Dan Wiltse is re-elected NCC vice-chair. John McLean is re-elected IAB chair. Work begins on Durum Mill renovation.


Laird Larson, SD Wheat Commission, elected NCC Chair. John McLean is elected IAB Chair. Construction of NCI grain processing laboratory approved. NCC membership increased through ND legislative action. Feed Production Center Vision Task Force initiated. Director Patricia Berglund retires.


Jennifer Tesch, SK Food International, elected NCC Chair. Mehmet Tulbek hired as NCI’s first oilseed and legume specialist. Buhler laboratory-scale mill donated to NCI by North Dakota State Mill. Translation Booths remodeled.



Matt Mechtel, ND Soybean Council, elected NCC Chair. Bob Majkrzak, Red River Commodities, elected IAB Chair. Electronic Data Collection system installed in pasta extruder.


Brian Kaae re-elected chair of NCC. Strategic Planning and action planning completed.


Brian Kaae, MT Wheat and Barley Committee, elected NCC Chair. 20th Anniversary Celebration is celebrated on June 30. Renovation of NCI's Main Floor. Special Edition 20th Anniversary Publication (pdf)


Sherwood Peterson, MN Soybean Growers Council, elected NCC Chair. NCI establishes an Industry Advisory Board.


Brian Sorenson is hired as NCI's second Technical Director. NCI produces new promotional video. NDSU dedicates the Animal Nutrition and Physiology Center.


Maynard Satrom, ND Wheat Commission, elected NCC chair. Wheat Quality Council elects Berglund chair. NDSU lets bids for the Small Animal Research Center.




NCI Auditorium is equipped with multimedia equipment and Internet access at all desks. Chinese Ambassador to USA visits NCI.


Charles Gunnerson elected NCC chair. NCI receives contract for AACC check sample analysis. NCC votes to transfer funds for the Food Processing Pilot Plant to the construction of NDSU's Small Animal Research Center.


Plans for construction of the Food Processing Pilot Plant are reviewed.




Patricia Berglund, Ph.D., is hired as NCI's second Director. Joel Dick is elected NCC Chair. Bids let for the feed mill reception area and quality control lab.


Terry Goerger re-elected NCC chair. Quality control laboratory added to feed mill construction.


Terry Goerger is elected NCC chair. NCI's administrative reporting line changes from Director of Agricultural Experiment Station to the Vice President for Agriculture and University Outreach. Discussions begin on construction of feed mill reception/office area.


Jim Squires is elected NCC chair. Feed mill classroom is dedicated. Director Donnelly takes leave of absence from NCI to serve as interim Vice President for Agriculture and University Outreach.




Richard Fugleberg is elected NCC chair. NCI receives bids for feed mill classroom. Patent application process begins for NCI-developed couscous.


George Howe is elected NCC chair. Durum Mill is dedicated during Harvest Bowl weekend. Congress approves USDA aquaculture project at NCI Feedmill.




NCI hires Kim Koch, Ph.D., as first feed mill manager. Feed Mill is dedicated during Harvest Bowl weekend.


Jerry Kruger becomes NCC chair. Ground breaking ceremony for feed mill is held August 17. Construction of durum mill begins.


Fund-raising for feed mill and durum mill is in full swing. Agreement is signed to train Soviet millers, bakers and pasta manufacturers. High temperature-high pressure extruder is installed and operational.




David Holter elected NCC chair. Feed mill building committee and steering committee are appointed.


Orion Samuelson films his “U.S. Farm Report” in Fargo, highlighting the NCI and NDSU. NCC reviews proposal for construction of a feed mill and durum mill.


Willard Pedersen is elected NCC chair.


John Crabtree is hired as NCI's first assistant director. NCI produces promotional film with a matching grant from the MN Department of Agriculture.



Construction of NCI is complete. First ribbon-cutting ceremony is held on April 29, attended by the first visiting trade delegation from Switzerland . Official ribbon-cutting ceremony takes place during the Harvest Bowl activities on October 22. Northern Crops Council, NCI's governing board, expands to 13 members when South Dakota and Montana begin to participate. Ed Ross is elected NCC chair. James Jacobs is employed as NCI's first technical director. NCI's first course, Grain Procurement Management for Importers, is presented Sept. 19-30. Nine people from Iraq, Oman, Yemen and China participated.


Dr. Brendan Donnelly is hired as NCI's first director.




ND Senate Bill 2372 authorizes establishment of Northern Crops Institute. House Bill 1341 provides $1.5 million for construction and equipment. Official ground breaking is held on December 16. George Sinner is elected the first chair of the Northern Crops Council.



Proposal for a Spring Grains Institute is presented and approved by the Agricultural Experiment Station Facilities Committee. Later that year, the concept fails to gain approval from the ND State Board of Higher Education. United States Durum Growers Association passes a resolution to support a Spring Grains Institute. This action sets in motion a chain of events that results in legislative action.


Discussions begin about the need for a facility to promote spring wheat and durum wheat.