JOSEPH MORTON was born in 1839 and set up a small produce merchant business in 1856, buying and selling items such as butter and eggs as well as pigs.
The production of ryegrass seed was a major industry in the North of Ireland at this time, and spotting this opportunity, he began buying and machining ryegrass seed, which became the main part of his business by the end of the nineteenth century. Around this time he was joined by one of his elder sons, George, who played a very important part in the business until his premature death in 1915. By this time three of the founder’s other sons had joined him in the business: Reginald, Richard and John. (Reginald and John served in the Great War). In 1922, the business was formed into a private limited company under the name of Joseph Morton Limited (Morton’s). Joseph Morton died in 1931 at the age of 91, and his three sons inherited the business.
In 1953 Morton’s began selling seeds directly to farmers in Northern Ireland. This allowed the business to diversify interests and form stronger relationships with ryegrass seed producers, as well as the farming community. One of the main objectives was to supply ryegrass seed growers with the finest possible seed for sowing, so that resultant seed crops would be of the highest standard. The company was at the forefront of the Elite Seed Scheme which was extremely successful in improving commercial seed quality in Northern Ireland.
Over time the production of ryegrass seed became less and less important in Northern Ireland, so Morton’s broadened the scope of its offering to include a wide range of agricultural chemicals and other essential farm inputs. Morton’s is now one of the largest retail agricultural merchants in the province. The company remains at the cutting edge of the industry offering farmers practical, science based advice as well as innovative products and services.