Wheat farming in Kansas is hard work with unpredictable weather patterns, pests and diseases to combat, but fifth generation farmer, Michael Speer from Clearwater, Kansas loves his job. After graduating from Kansas State University with a degree in agricultural technology management, Speer joined his father, Lynden Speer, to do what he does best, farm.
"I grew up with it. From the time I was old enough to walk, I was out following dad around, being around all the equipment and everything," said Speer. "I enjoy being able to get out there in the tractor and combine, where it's peaceful and serve the land."
Clearwater, located in south central Kansas, is part of an area where wheat tends to thrive, making it an ideal crop for Speer and his family, who have grown mainly wheat from the very beginning.
"We have hot, dry summer months, which is the main reason we like to grow it. It's the crop we can most consistently get good yield out of," said Speer.
The region's dryness isn't always an advantage though. Speer reported damage to this year's crop due to some drought early in the year.
"We had some drought damage during late February, early March until we started getting a little rain during April, but we got pretty dry there for a while," said Speer.
In addition to drought, Speer observed a slight bit of freeze damage due to a couple sub-freezing, early-spring nights as well as stripe rust, which had to be treated with fungicide. Despite these vulnerabilities, Speer's prediction of an average to above average yield this harvest season is proving to be true.
After starting harvest on June, 6, Speer is getting ready to wrap it up a little over a week later. Speer reports variable yields ranging from the mid 30's to 60 bushels per acre and impressive test weights.
"Test weights were excellent with only one or two under 62 pounds per bushel," said Speer.