The Dybvig Seed Cleaner was invented by Melvin R. Dybvig, and his father, Henry Dybvig. Henry’s father, N.H. Dybvig, owned and operated the Dybvig Nursery in Colton, South Dakota in the early 1900s. Henry bought the nursery from his father and Melvin, in turn, bought it from his father. While father and son imagined the seed cleaner while operating the nursery in Colton, it took an engineer to bring their idea to life. The first seed cleaner was sold in the fall of 1951 to Plumfield Nursery in Nebraska.
Melvin owned and operated the family nursery until 1964 when he sold it and moved his family to Oregon where he continued to market the Dybvig Seed Cleaner. The current model is similar to the original design. Early machines used a pulley system that had to be hooked up to a tractor to operate. In 1975, the gear box and flat pulley system were replaced with an electric motor with a variable speed v-belt drive. However, the machine can be purchased without the electric motor if the buyer wants to install their own gas engine to operate the machine.
Dybvig Family Nursery, Colton, South Dakota
The machine is built to last; repeat orders are for additional machines—not to replace a machine that has worn out. Nurseries report that during peak season, the machine operates almost twenty-four hours a day. Many of the early machines are still in use today!
Melvin Dybvig passed down the family business to one of his five daughters and her husband. Sadly, he passed away in 2018 at the ripe old age of 97. The machine was his pride and joy up to the last days of his life. Melvin was the keeper of the history of the machine and easily named the scientific names of the many seeds that can and have been cleaned with the machine. He recalled the many nurseries and nurserymen that he met over the years while selling and delivering this machine. He was proud and amazed at some of the innovative ways that the machine has been used by people cleaning seeds. He loved to hear stories of how the machine is being used, especially for unique seeds. His daughter and son-in-law share that same delight and work diligently to make sure the machine will always meet his high standards.
The Dybvig Seed Cleaner has been sold all over the United States of America and to many foreign countries, including New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Taiwan, Israel and South Africa.
The versatile machine can clean small to large seeds from the tiny Aspen tree seed to the large peach seed. While the Honey Locust seed is one of the more unusual seeds that have been cleaned, the Dybvig Seed Cleaner can even handle asparagus and butternut squash.