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Sharon Springs farmer ready to promote wheat

3/17/2014

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

SHARON SPRINGS -- David Schemm laughs about the "five-year sentence" he's about to serve.

In this case, he'll be shackled to the idea of a series of annual trips and exhaustive conference calls to promote wheat.

Schemm just has been elected as secretary-treasurer of the National Association of Wheat Growers, a partnership that includes 22 wheat-growing states.

Along the way of his five-year sentence, the 43-year-old Schemm ultimately will take the reins of the organization.

"We take one-year turns in each of our officer positions," he said of the process.

In the fifth year, he'll serve as immediate past president -- a voting ex-officio position that will serve as the final days of his term.

Promoting wheat isn't anything new to Schemm, whose farm stretches nearly 70 miles west to east from south of Weskan east to an area south of Russell Springs.

As the biggest wheat growing state, Kansas has been and currently still has strong representation in NAWG.

Currently, Hillsboro wheat farm Paul Penner serves as president of the group.

Woodston's Jerry McReynolds was elected president of the group in 2010 after making the rounds of the other positions.

All three have served stints on the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, where Schemm currently serves as immediate past president.

As members before him, Schemm will attend several big meetings each year, including working with members of Congress.

As secretary-treasurer, he said, the job required a conference call with auditors.

"It was only a three-hour call," he said.

While the NAWG isn't flush with cash, Schemm said they work closely with other commodity organizations and the industry.

"We are a very effective group," he said.

That's in part the result of having the backing of 22 member states.

While he also grows corn, milo and sunflowers on his no-till farm, his primary focus is wheat.

In deciding to join up with the NAWG, Schemm said he first talked it over with his wife, Lisa, and then his two hired hands.

During the meetings, his employees will be handling the day-to-day duties in the field, at the direction of Lisa Schemm.

Schemm said he's got a bit of irrigated ground, but most of the land once irrigated has been converted to dryland as water levels fell.

He likes the idea of spreading out the acres he farms because of the threat of hail.

"Out here in this country, we deal with hail a lot," Schemm said. Spreading the farm operation helps spread the risk of losing a crop to hail.

Drought also is a concern, he said, and this year's wheat crop is starting to green up.

"Right now, 90 percent -- 85 (percent) to 90 percent -- of the stuff looks pretty good," he said.

A good soaking rain of an inch or so would do wonders, he added.

The remaining 10 percent of the crop went in late and might suffer from winterkill.