Knopf Farms

The Knopf Family Farm is located in southern Saline County near Gypsum. Come along with Jim Shroyer as he introduces us to Justin Knopf, a fifth generation farmer, who shares the history of Knopf Farm and brings us up to date on his dry-land, no-till cropping operation.

(Jim) Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host and today we’re in luck because we’re in southern Saline County near the big town of Gypsum and we’re on the Knopf Family Farm and they have quite an operation. And in just a moment we’re gonna be talking with Justin Knopf about the family operation and it’s mainly wheat, sorghum, corn and alfalfa. So, stay tuned. We’ll be right back after these words. See you then.

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

(Jim) Good morning folks. I’m Jim Shroyer host of That’s My Farm. Thanks for being with us. And you know we’re in luck because we’re in Saline County and we’re on the Knopf Farms. And with us we have Justin. And Justin’s gonna tell us about kind of the family history and kind of what you do here on the place. Just kind of tell us how you got here. Justin. (Justin) Sure. You bet. Thanks for coming out today Jim. It’s good to have you guys here. (Jim) Thank you. (Justin) We always appreciate the opportunity to host folks and tell our story of what we’re doing here in Saline County on our family farm. Yeah, I farm here with my Dad and brother. We run a cropping operation. We don’t have any livestock. We focus on the crop aspect of things. I studied agronomy. (Jim) There you go. (Justin) K-State. Very proud of that. And actually made it through somehow without a single animal science class, so animal scientists out there, I apologize for that, but we’re gonna focus on crops on this deal. (Jim) Good deal. (Justin) Anyway, so yeah, farm here with my Dad and brother. We farm in a dry land, no till environment. Try to have a healthy crop rotation, so we raise winter wheat of course, a little bit of dryland corn, soybeans, grain sorghum and then actually a fair amount of alfalfa hay. Probably a little bit more alfalfa hay acreage percentage wise in our cropping rotation than what the typical farm would have around here. (Jim) Sure. (Justin) But as far as where we’ve come from, my brother and I are fifth generation farmers here in Kansas. My Dad’s family immigrated from Germany, let’s see probably five generations ago or so. And my Dad’s side of the family actually both farmed and then his, my Dad’s Grandfather, so my Great Grandfather was actually a preacher and they spent some time throughout all of the Great Plains, different states, actually. Spent some time when my Grandfather was young here in Saline and Dickinson County actually preaching at a small church over by Dillan and Hope, east of here in Dickinson County. That’s the time where my Grandfather met my Grandmother and then they moved. My Grandfather’s family moved on down to Oklahoma and I still have relatives farming down there down in Alfalfa County interestingly enough. My Mom’s side of the family immigrated from Sweden and of course, ended up I’m sure you can guess, down by the Assaria, Lindsborg area… (Jim) Right, right. (Justin) …is where they settled. So actually there’s a quarter of ground there that my brother and I are farming that would be, we’re the fifth generation on that particular… (Jim) Piece of ground. (Justin) …parcel of land where they had homesteaded that from Sweden. (Jim) OK. Good deal. We’re gonna, we’re gonna have to take a break here for a second. So, Justin don’t go away. And you folks at home, we’ll be right back, so you don’t go away either. See you in a minute.

(Jim) Welcome back folks to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer. And we’re on the Knopf Farms in Saline County. With us we have Justin. And Justin you didn’t run off during the break. (Justin) No still here. (Jim) So, I appreciate that. (Justin) That’s right. (Jim) OK. Good. So, let’s take rotations again and let’s go focus on the wheat crop. (Justin) OK. Like I said we’re a dry land, no till farm predominantly. So, our basic rotation would be two years of wheat, followed by sorghum, followed by soybeans, and then back to the wheat again. A basic fundamental four year rotation is our foundation. Of course, we have variances from that based on weather conditions and field conditions, wheat populations and so forth. (Jim) But your first year wheat is probably first week of October. (Justin) Exactly. (Jim) And about 75 pounds. (Justin) Exactly yeah, 75-85 pounds depending on seed size of course. And then we usually get started on that second year wheat going back into wheat stubble. That’s usually a really nice seed bed for us, holds good moisture coming out of late summer into fall. And we’ll start the fifth of October, kind of when soil conditions look good. (Jim) No till, using no till air seeder. (Justin) That’s right. Yep. We’ll use and 1890 Deere Air Seeder. It does all of our seeding. Does all of our wheat seeding with that. We do our alfalfa seeding with it. All of our soybean we put in 15 inch rows. It’s a 7 1/2 inch seeder. Soybeans will go in 15 inch rows. And sometimes we’ll do our sorghum out with the air seeder on 15 inch rows. Sometimes we’ll use our planter on 30 inch rows on some. (Jim) Right. (Justin) This is our depth gauge wheel of course we’re determining our depth right here, right where the seed is coming out, the seed boot. I like the fact that we are determining our depth right where the seed is being placed at instead of behind it or somewhere else. We’ve got a seed firming wheel here. That’s firming that seed down into the bottom of the seed trench. So it’s got good soil to seed contact. And then this is our closing wheel where we’re just sloughing some soil back over the top of that seed trench. Depth is determined right with an adjustment. Alfalfa of course is our shallowest seeded crop. (Jim) Yeah. (Justin) We’re shooting for 1/4 to 1/2 an inch. Wheat of course, we really work on having consistent seed depth in wheat and that’s difficult, particularly in that wheat on wheat stock rotation. (Jim) You get hair pinning if that residue is wet at all in the morning. (Justin) Or not evenly distributed from our combine. (Jim) Exactly. (Justin) Another thing that’s a challenge to work on, the windy conditions in harvest, but we continue to try to get better at that. (Jim) What about varieties? (Justin) Variety wise we usually use probably three main varieties on our farm. This past year we used Everest was our main variety. (Jim) It kind of got dinged a little bit didn’t it? (Justin) Yeah it did. This was a year where our weather pattern favored fuller season wheats this year. (Jim) Right, right. (Justin) And so we saw that certainly on our farm and this geography here in central Kansas. But I… (Jim) But it’s been a good variety for you. (Justin) It’s been a consistent variety and I’m gonna stay with it. This next year we’re gonna plant a fair amount of Everest. Last year we used Armour. This year we’ll be using a little less Armour and I’m gonna look at something new. Wizard is something we’re probably going to take a look at. (Jim) Right. LCS Wizard. (Justin) Right. And then we’re gonna have a fair amount of Cedar out again this year. (Jim) Yeah, that’s a very early season, short, early season variety. (Justin) Yeah. And so we have kind of got a lot of…we kind of got stacked up on the short side a little bit last year, which probably hurt us with the weather pattern we had last year. So that’s why we wanted to go with… (Jim) Go with Wizard, a little bit lighter. (Justin) It just spreads our maturity out a little bit on that. (Jim) OK, I’ve got the high sign here for a break. So, don’t go away again. (Justin) OK. (Jim) You folks at home stay with us we’ll be right back.

(Jim) Welcome back folks to That’s My Farm. We’re on the Knopf Family Farm here in Saline County. And Justin you stayed with us again. Thank you sir. So, here we are in a little soybean patch here. So, tell us how you got to this point. (Justin) Right. Dry land soybeans. They’ve been through… they got planted kind of late actually… (Jim) Cause of the rains. (Justin)… cause we were pretty wet actually. We were dry in early spring, really dry through April which is usually our high moisture month. (Jim) Exactly. (Justin) And actually dry through most of May. And then we usually start planting our dry land beans late May through first half of June… (Jim) Uh huh. (Justin) …here. And we started getting rain Memorial Day and stayed wet and these actually probably didn’t go in until about mid-June in this particular field. (Jim) And that’s even late in some years, late double crop. So these are your full season. (Justin) These are our full season. (Jim) Full season. (Justin) And we’ll usually finish up on our farm, honestly our planting dates have been creeping a little bit late the last few years. Our hot spell in the summer has seemed to come more in July through early August. (Jim) Sure. (Justin) And some of our later plantings have been a little bit more consistent for both soybeans and grain sorghum on our farm the last three years. Which has crept our planting dates a little bit later. But yeah, so this was… June, early to mid-June is about when we’ll typically finish up our full season. Our double crops of course, will all depend on wheat harvest. But this year for instance most of our double crop beans went in June 26th or so to about July 4th, July 5th. (Jim) What kind of yields are you shooting for for your full season beans compared to your double crop beans. (Justin) Course, I’d like to shoot for 50 bushel yields, on our 50 bushel per acre on our full season beans every year, but realistically probably 35-45 is our realistic range. If we get it consistently above 40 that’s a pretty good year for our full season beans. Our double crop beans, typically 20 to 30 bushel, we’re pretty satisfied with. (Jim) Right, right. (Justin) Realistically… (Jim) Keep the cost down on those. (Justin) That’s right. Cost is low. We’ve got to be doing weed control in the field anyways in those fields. And this way we’re able to utilize a little bit of moisture. I particularly like doing double crop beans in our more productive bottom soils, a little deeper soils that have a little bit better water holding capacity. And I like to do that double crop bean after the second year wheat before we’re going back to corn or grain sorghum. (Jim) Right. (Justin) Fix a little bit of nitrogen, make a good seed bed for that following year. (Jim) So, normally you’d be following for most of your beans you are following grain sorghum. (Justin) That’s right. Most… the vast majority of our beans would be following grain sorghum. Some of ’em behind dry land corn. But our dry land corn acreage is much lower than our grain sorghum acreage in on our rotation on our farm. (Jim) OK. So, what kind of seeding rates you looking for? (Justin) Usually about a 120 to 140 thousand will be our range depending on the farm. So, on average probably about 130,000 seeds per acre. (Jim) OK, OK. Good deal. And well I’m getting the high sign here so, I think we better take a break here. So, folks stay with us. We’ll be right back after the words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back folks to That’s My Farm. With us we have Justin Knopf. And we’re on the Knopf Farms here in Saline County. And obviously Justin, we’re standing in a grain sorghum field. So, (Justin) Yeah. (Jim) And I look down, I see a lot of residue. (Justin) That’s right. (Jim) But you know I gotta clarify, I saw a field cultivator heading out just a second ago. (Justin) That’s right. (Jim) And I know you’re a no tiller. So, what’s the deal on that. (Justin) That’s right. Yes, we really work on our soil health and no tilling and really believe strongly in maintaining residue to help us both capture moisture efficiently and effectively. (Jim) And keep it here. (Justin) And store it for the crop for when we go through these hot dry periods that we’ve just been through to where we rake and have more consistency in our yields, however yeah, you’re right, you probably just saw some footage of a field cultivator at the farm and you know, we really focus on no tilling but every once and a while we find there’s just some problems we need to take care of. This year we’ve struggled with a little… (Jim) Wheat harvest. (Justin)…mud during wheat harvest and it’s always tough to balance- well, do we go ahead, you know we’ve got land owner’s shares of wheat out in the fields as well as our own. So, it’s always a balance between getting that crop out timely and maybe pushing it a few days and leaving a few ruts versus what if we take the risk of waiting a few more days? Then we may have a storm, another two inch rain comes through, test weight goes down. (Jim) Yeah, yeah. (Justin) Test weight goes down lower, it’s just a continual battle. (Jim) It’s a battle. (Justin) Every once in a while I have to admit we have to do some light tillage to repair some things, some tracks. Or we also use some light tillage in establishing our alfalfa stand incorporating lime, when we have a field that is getting lower pH that’s going into alfalfa, incorporating some lime with some light tillage as well. But we really work on trying to keep it at a minimum. I really believe in no till, but I have to admit we do… (Jim) I saw that. I just want to…. (Justin) Yeah. (Jim) So, just take us… what we have here. What kind of seeding rate and how about nitrogen? (Justin) Yeah, so sure. So, this is grain sorghum. Again, late planted this year because of the wet spell we had through mid-June, which is kind of when we were planting a lot of this stuff. This was actually seeded in late June. Which is normally when we’ll be doing… (Jim) It’s gonna have to hustle. (Justin) It’s going to have to hustle to be ahead of whenever our freeze comes this year. Hopefully, not early. It’s going to have to move along. But you know, some of the milo seeded around, that was seeded in early June or late May, it got stuck trying to head. It was in the boot stage through all that heat. (Jim) When it got heat. (Justin) And it really, really suffered. We’re having standability issues in those fields. (Jim) And stock rots. (Justin) Stock rots are horrible, didn’t head out consistently, so again later planted if it makes it, is gonna give us a little bit better yield. But it is going to have to really hustle to be ahead of the freeze and not get injured by it. (Jim) So how much total in? (Justin) Total in on this particular farm would be about 100 units total. (Jim) OK. (Justin) And we put that in between the row. All of that went on as urea in between the row at seeding time. (Jim) OK. (Justin) So, we’re on 15 inch rows, so 7 1/2 inches away is that band of nitrogen put on in the ground as urea. I like that cause we’re not losing it to volatilization. And again seeding into nice heavy wheat residue to store moisture and capture it effectively. (Jim) Well, thank you Justin and hang on. You folks at home, we’ll be right back after these words.

(Jim) Welcome back folks to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer. I have Justin Knopf from southern Saline County. And Justin obviously we’re in alfalfa field right now. (Justin) Yeah. (Jim) And I know that’s a big component of the family operation. So, tell us a little bit about your alfalfa. (Justin) We really like…alfalfa has always been a significant part of our rotation. It has done well for us, consistently across the years. We like that it’s a perennial, has a few less input costs from variable expenses as far as that goes. (Jim) The initial cost can be a little pricey. (Justin) Seeding here is a pretty pricey, particularly with the price of alfalfa¬†seed today. A seeding year you can get up to a hundred some dollars an acre in the seeding year. But, hopefully then that stand will last you seven, eight years. We always have a dry spell, a dry, hot period in our summer here and alfalfa will typically go dormant for a little bit. But what’s nice is we still have another chance for another crop after it does cool off. And at this time of year, early September we’ll be able to take a final cutting after we do get some rain and some cooler temperatures. (Jim) You just want enough growth, you want enough growth after that last cutting to put nutrients back down into the ground. (Justin) That’s right. That’s right. We try to take care of crowns to where we have good carbohydrates stored in that crown tissue going into winter time, so we have good spring green up. That’s a little tricky. You know, we have enough acres where it’s tricky to time that all perfectly going into fall. But we do the best we can. We really like particularly on our no till farming operation, having a perennial in our cropping sequence. We like the… Dad’s always raised alfalfa, we grew up putting up hay, alfalfa hay and he always saw the benefits to the soil and the subsequent crops after he had a field in alfalfa. And Jeff and I have just certainly carried on that tradition. And it’s incorporated very well in our no till farming practices. Putting a lot of nitrogen into the soil, we’ll usually have a field in alfalfa for five to seven years. We like the deep tap roots. We see a lot of earthworm activity after a field’s been in alfalfa. (Jim) So, how many cuttings do you usually try to go for? (Justin) We’ll usually hit four cuttings per year. Unless we have some really crazy weather event, we’ll usually consistently hit four. Sometimes on a few of the fields that we cut earlier in the spring, our first cut fields in the spring, we’ll be able to stretch a small fifth cutting out of those. (Jim ) Right, so what’s your main market for your alfalfa? (Justin) So yeah, we try to market most of it as put up as…that we get put up correctly that has nutrition, not rained on before it’s bailed… (Jim) Now, that’s a trick now. I want to know how you do that every year? (Justin) That’s right. (Jim) Put up hay without rain, that’s pretty hard. (Justin) That’s right. (Jim) Especially that first two cuttings. (Justin) The neighbor’s always watching We put down this one particular field, they know they could count on the rain. (Jim) Yeah, exactly. (Justin) They always watch. But yeah, we try to market as much as we can direct to dairy farms. They need good, quality alfalfa hay with high protein, high feed value. (Jim) Relative feed value. Now, do you test it? (Justin) Every field, every cutting is tested separately, stored separately, inventoried separately and marketed separately. (Jim) That’s a good deal. I know, just a second ago you’re talking about dry spells, and we’ve got obviously some seed pods here. So it’s been a while since this area’s been cut but because of the dryness that you had, drought that you had earlier, and then you also got new growth here that’s just come up here in the last couple three weeks. (Justin) About a week or ten days ago we had a really nice rain here and brought on this new growth, which will bring us a nice final cutting for this field. We decided, well instead of trying to cut this stuff that’s more mature, it will be a really light tonnage. Let’s just go ahead and let this new growth come on in and fill in, get some more tonnage and have a nice final cutting. If it’s timed right going into fall for the crop. (Jim) But this probably won’t go to dairy. This last cutting. (Justin) We’ll have to see. You know it may be leafy enough and I would suspect there’s enough new growth, if they get it put up right, have good conditions for drying, I think it will probably make dairy hay. (Jim) Justin, I really appreciate you taking time to talk with us here and folks thank you for being with us here in Saline County. And don’t forget next Friday, be with us early in the morning on That’s My Farm. Thank you.

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

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