Kent Winter

The Kent Winter Farm is located in western Sedgwick County. Today Jim Shroyer introduces us to Kent, a fourth generation farmer, who shares the rich history of his family operation and takes us on a tour. We’ll learn many things about his operation including his choices of crop rotation, planting dates and herbicide usage.

(Jim) Good morning folks, I’m Jim Shroyer, host of That’s My Farm. Glad you’re with us this morning. We’re in western Sedgwick County today. We’re going to be talking with Kent Winter about his family operation, different crop rotations and he’ll be with us in just a moment. So, stay with us.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Jim) Good morning, welcome to That’s My Farm. And folks we’re in luck because we’re in Sedgwick County and we’re on the Kent Winter farm right now, west of Wichita. And with us we have Kent Winter. Kent, good to see you again. And we’re going to be spending a little time chatting with you about your crop rotations, but first I’d like to have you tell us a little bit about how the farm operation got started and I know you have a little treat for us here, a little history lesson. And then we’ll talk a little bit about crop rotation here in the first segment. So Kent, take it away. (Kent) I happen to be fourth generation here in Sedgwick County along with my wife who is also fourth generation. My Great Grandfather moved down here in the 1890’s from Pottawatomie County, Kansas, near the community of Flush. It was in what was called the Rock Creek Drainage District. And the story that’s been passed down for all these generations is they got tired of farming the rocks. So, they were looking for another place to call home and the farm. And evidence of that, there is a large red boulder on display in the city park at Wamego with a plaque underneath that says that that thing came from the farm of John Winter, my ancestor. Somehow in 1907 they were able to get wheels underneath it and get it into town. (Jim) So, how about here? How many generations here in Sedgwick County, four you say? (Kent) So, I’m fourth generation here in Sedgwick County. My Grandparents moved onto this place in 1919. And my Dad was raised here and I was raised here. And every now and again, I have evidence that we weren’t the first folks here. (Jim) Right. (Kent) I bend over and pick something up and this is evidence that there was a whole generation of people, a whole culture… (Jim) Culture. (Kent) of people way before us that made their living off of the land here, as we do now. (Jim) So you were telling me earlier that some of these are in that 350 range years ago and then there’s one here that, up here about 11 o’clock, that’s how old? (Kent) Most of these points are the Woodland Points, 300 to 700 years old. The one at 11 o’clock is considered to be a Makeen Point. And an anthropologist on staff at Wichita State University told me that that point is 5,000 years old. It was found in the same general vicinity as the other points. It was basically, I believe, used as a seasonal hunting camp on some high ground that overlooks the local creek. (Jim) I bet they didn’t have any herbicide resistant pig weed at that time, but they had a lot of other problems worse than that. So, Kent, I tell you what, that’s really interesting about your history and the previous owners or passersby on your ground. We’re gotta take a word from our sponsors in just a second, so stay where you are and we’ll be right back folks after these words from our sponsor.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, we’re in Sedgwick County and we’ve got Kent Winter here and he’s gonna talk to us about through about your crop rotation and we’ll get more into crops. So, Kent tell me what’s your overall crop rotation? I know you’ve got some irrigated as well. (Ken) Half my acres Jim are in wheat. and with… that’s on the dryland portion. And I rotate those acres with dryland grain sorghum and dryland corn, dryland alfalfa, and dryland soybeans. So we try to stay in wheat two or three years and then rotate over to one of the fall crops, just depending on the history of the ground and what works good for us. Normally when we rotate to soybeans after wheat we’re doing it no till. We’re going in standing stubble and we’ve got the finger openers on our planter and we can come in and do that. The finger openers throw the trash out to the side and cleans this strip for the seed operation to do its thing. So the seed can be dropped without bulldozing and pushing a bunch of trash ahead of the opener. Same way with grain sorghum, we can rotate double crop grain sorghum. (Jim) After wheat. (Kent) After wheat. But we also… in addition, we do have full season grain sorghum and full season soybeans. We also have full season dryland corn and we also have alfalfa in our rotation here. And alfalfa has been around basically with all the generations of Winters that have lived here. So, it was primarily wheat and then they had alfalfa, mainly to support the livestock operation. And then in the 50’s my Dad started incorporating dryland grain sorghum into the rotation also. (Jim) OK let’s talk a little bit about wheat, that’s half of your acres. When do you like to plant? How many varieties do you use? So just give us a little history on wheat here. (Kent) When it comes to wheat I’ve had awful good luck the last few years with Everest. And since we have an option of using foliar or fungicide in the spring, I’ve restricted my acres to just Everest the last few years and have been getting along fine with that. I may go back to incorporating some other varieties in the future. (Jim) You kinda got hurt with Everest this year, right? (Kent) Well, everything was starving for moisture this last spring. So, but when it comes to the wheat as far as my planting date, I don’t like to plant early. I like to wait til say second, third week of October. (Jim) Really? OK. (Kent) To plant. And also this time of year we’re gathering soil samples, we’re trying to determine if I have any carry over nitrogen. We’re making some decision on how much nitrogen to put down ahead of sowing. Normally we put down 40 units of nitrogen. (Jim) OK and the follow it with top dress later on? (Kent) Follow it with top dress usually in January. With maybe 30 units or so in a liquid form along with a herbicide. (Jim) I’ve got the high sign here that we need to take a break, so Kent don’t go away and you folks at home we’ll be right back after the words from these sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back folks to That’s My Farm, I’m Jim Shroyer. We’re in Sedgwick County and we’re on the Kent Winter Farm. And look who we have, we have Kent Winter here. Kent thank you for staying with us here. We talked about using one variety and then the fungicide, of course Everest is susceptible to a lot of things now. Let’s talk more about those fungicides when do you… you don’t just use a fungicide all the time. But when do you really hone in on a fungicide? (Kent) We feel like anytime we’re following corn with wheat we have to be really conscious about the scab potential there. So we take a real hard look at using the fungicide at a certain time there in the spring where the proper time to be putting it on. And we’ve had good luck with that. And we even…we put it on and used it for the last several years, even this past spring where it was so dry. We felt like we better go ahead and put it on especially on the one particular wheat field that we have that was under irrigation. (Jim) Yeah, after corn and then when there’s moisture there, that’s when scab is gonna show up. So, OK we’ve talked a little bit about wheat. Let’s talk about your next crop. Let’s talk about corn or soybeans, you pick. (Kent) OK, in the last 20 years Jim, the corn and soybeans have been brought into our rotation on dry land. Prior to that it was just strictly grain sorghum and alfalfa. But I feel like the Roundup Ready technology and some of the increased yield potential on dry land played a factor in making that decision. And I like it for several reasons, one being we all know that crop rotation is going to enhance yields, assuming you can get the moisture. (Jim) Right. (Kent) But the other thing that we look at is, it’s another way for me to spread the risk and also an operation like mine where the boys tend to disappear when school starts… (Jim) Right. (Kent) It’s a way for me to spread the work load out so that I can get by with a minimum amount of hired labor. (Jim) Right. OK, well good deal. So, let’s take us through your rotation on your dryland. Wheat, you said you had corn, grain sorghum, soybeans and alfalfa. Where do you fit the alfalfa into it? (Kent) Normally what we like to do is we follow wheat with alfalfa. And sow that alfalfa this time of the year. I prefer some time around the Labor Day holiday to sow alfalfa. (Jim) Cause we get a rain sometimes around State Fair time. (Jim) Normally we get that. We’ve been a little short in that category this year. But we always have to be thinking ahead Jim on our herbicide use and so any wheat ground that would have received Finesse last winter is probably not a good candidate to be coming in with alfalfa. So, we have to be looking ahead. Maybe two or three cropping seasons as we try to make these decisions. (Jim) OK, so is your ground tilled before alfalfa? Or do you do no till? (Kent) Actually when we’re doing alfalfa I till the ground. I like to have a firm seed bed. (Jim) Weed free of course. (Kent) Weed free and debris free to sow the alfalfa. And that’s how we’ve had the best luck here. (Jim) So, do you do… you’ve soil tested. Do you want to worry about your pH? Do you have pH problems here? I know some of your neighbors are down in that low fives and into the fours. Is that the time for you to soil test and lime at that time? (Kent) Actually with alfalfa, been in the rotation for the last several decades, we’ve always had to take a hard look at the soil pH and lime requirement. With alfalfa in the rotation. So, following wheat that’s one of the first things that’s done. Normally if we know we’re going to alfalfa we have that sample pulled the year before and we’re able to get something done with the lime immediately after wheat harvest. I like to have a soil pH between six and seven to grow alfalfa. (Jim) So, if you take a soil test prior to the wheat crop and it’s below six, 5.8 or so, is that when you pull the trigger for the between the wheat and the alfalfa the next year then? (Kent) Yes, if it’s below six I want to see that pH maintained above six and so we start making plans to have the lime brought in and spread then. (Jim) OK. Good. Don’t go away, we need to stop here for a second. for a word from our sponsors. And you folks at home, stay where you are, we’ll be right back.

(Jim) Welcome back to that’s My Farm, I’m Jim Shroyer. We’re in Sedgwick County on the Kent Winter farm. And Kent thanks for staying with us. Let’s talk a little bit more about your alfalfa here. Let’s talk about your yield goals for the year, of course that’s gonna be weather dependent on everything else. But let’s talk about what size bales you have here and when you cut. (Kent) Right now Jim we’re looking at some 3X3X8 bales. I share a baler with a neighbor, a large square baler. And we’ve gone to this in the last several years, I still have a small square baler and the equipment to put up small, square hay. I use that to supply the hay for the local zoo here in Wichita and also some horse customers. But that primarily has to be first cutting alfalfa. (Jim) Right. (Kent) In order to avoid the blister beetle. (Jim) That’s just what I was gonna say, no blister beetles on that first cutting. (Kent) Right, right. But in this package hay let’s just face it, the hay comes off the field a lot, lot quicker than it does small squares. Also if it’s damaged hay, if it’s rained on, why I can market this stuff in 3X3X8 bales a lot easier than I could with small squares. (Jim) And this cutting represents what? (Kent) This is fourth cutting alfalfa. (Jim) That’s pretty good. (Kent) Right here. (Jim) What do you normally shoot for? How many cuttings? (Kent) Normally I’m happy with four, but I should say it’s been so dry since July 4 that there weren’t very many bales of fourth cutting. There wasn’t very much tonnage for fourth cutting. It was a deal where it was just tall enough for us to go after and get it off the field. (Kent) Normally we like to keep our hay, keep our fields in alfalfa six, seven maybe eight years. And we usually follow alfalfa… we kill it, we spray it to kill it in the mid summer and then come back with wheat that fall. Assuming we have normal moisture. (Jim) Now where do you market? You talked about your small bales going to horse people and zoos. But what about your big bales? (Kent) The big bales the last couple of years we’ve had good luck going out to Pratt, a pellet operation out there. And that operation also markets hays straight to some dairies also. (Jim) Don’t go away, we’ve gotta have a word here from our sponsors. And you folks at home, don’t go away, we’ll be right back.

(Jim) Welcome back folks to That’s My Farm. We’re in Sedgwick County. Got Kent Winter here. And we’re standing in a sorghum field Kent, so how does sorghum fit into your rotation? (Kent) Jim, I really like sorghum. We’ve always had it here since I was a little boy. It works very well for a rotation with wheat. And what I like about it, it’s my stress fighter, it’s my drought fighter. The stuff headed out a week, ten days ago and it’s been very, very dry since, so it’s waiting on a rain as we speak. Meanwhile my dryland soybeans have really, really suffered the last couple of weeks and I’ve lost a lot of yield potential there. But I’m still very much in the ball game here if some of these rain chances can materialize later on this week. So, it helps in the rotation to clean up any cheat issues I have with the wheat. So, we’d normally… we leave it in grain sorghum for a couple years. And we’ll either lay it out over the winter and come in with another spring crop or we’ll… it’s rare that we can double crop back to wheat because the sorghum comes off… (Jim) So late. (Kent) …too late in the fall. (Jim) As compared to corn or soybeans, right? (Kent) That’s correct. The other thing I really like about it is the residue it leaves behind. I’ve got very good cover, very good protection on the soil going through the winter and into the spring. (Jim) OK, let’s talk about when you like to plant and seeding rate and kind of compare that to say corn. (Kent) My normal planning date for milo, is I really like that June 15-20th time frame. (Jim) That’s good. (Kent) Granted, we’re also cutting wheat at that time, normally second cutting alfalfa is hitting then. But I like it because it delays the heading period to later in the summer, where in a normal year, we have a better shot at some rain and some cooler temperatures. (Jim) In late August or early September. (Kent) Yes. And the other thing I like about it, it spreads my workload out especially with the fall harvest. And the other thing I like about it is it’s very economical to grow compared to some of the other crops. My outlay for seed here was something like $8 an acre. My seeding rate is normally 30-32,000 plants per acre. (Jim) Right. And corn prices, I mean excuse me, I mean a bag of corn is pretty pricey, these days. (Kent) A bag of corn on a per acre basis is running me around $50 an acre for seed last spring. (Jim) Right. OK. What about fertility? What do you shoot for in fertility? (Kent) Well we take soil samples and see if there is any residual nitrogen from the year before, but normally we’re shooting for a yield goal of somewhere in that 80 to 100 bushel per acre range. We can do better than that if we get the right moisture. So, I am looking at my carryover nitrogen that shows up in the soil test and I’m trying to have on roughly 1.2 units of nitrogen for my yield goal. (Jim) OK, 1.2 units that you’re adding or 1.2 what you add, plus what’s in the soil? (Kent) Actually for total, total nitrogen available to the crop. I’m incorporating what shows up in the soil sample into that formula. (Jim) OK, OK. Good deal. Let’s talk about weed control a little bit. How are you doing on there? (Kent) On the weed control, so far we try to be careful on what fields we plant our milo on. If we’ve got a pig weed situation we try to avoid that. But I’m using a bicep type herbicide, pre-emerge and we were fortunate enough this year to have good rains to incorporate that. (Jim) There in June. (Kent) Yes. And so we have pretty good weed control on most of our fields. There was one field where control was not as good, so I had to revert back to 1960 technologies and get the corn knives out. (Jim) Oh dear. (Kent) And the kids and I had to go give it our best shot. (Jim) OK. Well Kent, I tell you what I think it’s about time that we wrap this and I want to thank you for taking this time today. And make sure you watch the show here in a few weeks. Thanks for joining us. Folks, you at home thank you for joining us. And don’t forget were gonna be coming to you every Friday on That’s My Farm. Thanks a lot, we’ll see you next week.

Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

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