GREENSBURG — Winning a national award once is an honor, but winning it more than 10 times means you have to be doing something out of the ordinary.
Not so, said Ki Gamble, a fourth-generation farmer from Greensburg, Kansas who recently won the National Sorghum Producers Yield Contest for the 10th time. For Gamble, growing sorghum, better known in Kansas as milo, is second nature.
"We live in a perfect place to compete on the national level in milo because of our elevation, temperatures and rainfalls," Ki said. "We don’t treat our contest fields any differently than we do the whole farm."
Ki and his wife Kim won the National Sorghum Producers Yield Contest this past year with a 204.5 bushel-per-acre entry in the Irrigated-Tillage West category. The two, representing the family farm, enter the contest each year. This year, Kim’s name was on the award.
The Gamble’s farm 10,000 acres of irrigated and dryland crops is in south-central Kansas. Ki is a member of the Sorghum Yield Contest Hall of Fame.
Ki, who farms alongside his son, Kasey, also grows alfalfa, corn, sunflowers, soybeans and wheat. The two, along Kim and daughter Katelynn also run a cow/calf operation. Kasey’s 10-year-old quarter horse, Cade, helps out with the cattle, and Kim hopes to add a few goats to their farm.
Although they won a corn contest recently, Ki said milo is what grows best.
This hearty grain, which grows in black, bronze, orange, red, tan and white varieties, has nourished humans and animals for centuries. According to the Sorghum Checkoff Program, Sorghum is the fifth most important cereal grain crop in the world. Because it is drought resistant and versatile, sorghum is a natural in Kansas.
Following rice, wheat, corn and potatoes, sorghum is the fifth highest-consumed product worldwide. Along with being used for bread products, this versatile grain can be popped, flaked and steamed.
Ki contributes his practice of soil testing and scouting for weeds and insects throughout the season as a part of his winning crop. He also plants and harvests all his crops in a timely fashion and makes sure his dryland strip-till milo is planted in heavy residue.
"We’re perfectionists, and we pay attention to small details," Ki said. "We not only have to do the big things right, we have to do the small things right."
The Gambles lived through the 2007 tornado, which hit their small community. Although their 1916 two-story house was hit, it remained structurally sound. The couple fixed the house and got back to the land.
Ki and Kim want to be able to pass the farm down to their children and their children’s children.
"When I got out of college, I didn’t want to do anything but farm," Ki said. "There wasn’t anything better than sitting on a tractor from daylight until dusk each day."