Marcus Howe Farm

(Jim) Good morning everyone and welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host Jim Doblin. We’re in Stevens County in western Kansas. And we are in a test plot of Kansas State University on the farm of Marcus Howe. We’re going to talk to Marcus about the experiments that are going on behind me as well as his future plans to put more cotton on this ground and his wheat operations. So, stay with us we’ll be right back.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Jim) Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host Jim Doblin. We are out in western Kansas, near the town of Moscow and we’re talking today with Marcus Howe and the Marcus Howe Farm operation which includes cotton obviously, and a whole bunch of other crops. So Marcus, welcome to the program first of all. (Marcus) Thank you, thank you. (Jim) And kind of go into the history of your operation. (Marcus) Oh I haven’t been farming too long, about ten years I’ve been out here in western Kansas. I’m originally from Indiana. Met my wife at Kansas State and her family fourth generation farm and just were looking for somebody to come out and work on the farm and she asked me if I was interested and I said yes, so… (Jim) Did you have any farming experience before that? (Marcus) No not really, I actually have a degree in mechanical engineering from Kansas State. (Jim) Now that could come in handy around some of these… (Marcus) Yea. (Jim)…some of these machines especially, because they do break down occasionally. (Marcus) Oh a lot, a lot. (Jim) And I imagine you probably had to fabricate a few things. (Marcus) Yes, yea all the time. Most farmers do. (Jim) Exactly. So tell me more about the operation that you have. You’re big into cotton but you also have other crops. (Marcus) This year we were pretty heavy on the corn side. We’ve had some struggles with the drought the last few years. And we’ve had some herbicide damage on our cotton. So kind of went heavier to the corn side. I do have some milo this year. A little bit of wheat. I don’t really do a lot of wheat, some dryland wheat. But we’re trying to work toward cotton with the limited irrigation we have out here. We’re kind of getting short on water. Cotton is kind of, it uses less water than the corn. (Jim) It’s more water savvy. (Marcus) Yea. (Jim) It’s a better crop in that respect. And really there is no end game for getting more water out here… (Marcus) No, no. (Jim) …in the near future, in the near term at least. (Marcus) It’s never going to get any better than it is today. (Jim) That’s right, that’s right. So, you’re going to basically kind of shift over to more of the cotton operation. (Marcus) Yea and not totally cotton. It’s just going to be you know, irrigation dependent crops. I mean we’ll still have room for corn. We do have some better wells that we can raise corn on, but the limited irrigation stuff, we will kind of shift towards cotton and maybe a little sorghum and milo. But yea, we’re trying to shift towards cotton. I think it’s a little better crop. You get a little more out of what you put in it. (Jim) You mentioned herbicide issues with some of the cotton. But that might change in the near future because of a new strain of cotton. (Marcus) Yes. (Jim) It’s coming out next year I understand. (Marcus) Yea, we’ll have a limited supply for next year. It looks like maybe 2017 is the year that we’re looking toward, kind of a light at the end of the tunnel. We’re supposed to get some 2,4-D resistant cotton. It wasn’t bred for our situation, it was more for herbicide resistant weeds, but it kind of fits our situation really well up here, where we have a little issue with the herbicide drift. But yea, we’re looking forward to that. (Jim) Yea, that’s good. And you know that way you can make better use of the land. (Marcus) And that’s the whole thing about farming. You want to get the most out of what you’ve got and make the best of what you have. (Jim) Alright Marcus stay with us, don’t go away. You folks, don’t go away. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome once again to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host Jim Doblin with Marcus Howe in Stevens County, Kansas, western Kansas, cotton country. And Marcus has been at this for about ten years now. What’s the cotton crop looking like, first of all for this year? (Marcus) It’s really good. It’s coming in way better than we expected. We got it in real late, the drought finally kind of slowed down this year and we had a really wet May. We weren’t able to get the crop in very early and got it in June and just really didn’t expect a whole lot. But it’s really doing quite well. I’m going to be probably averaging about 1,200 pounds this year on irrigated, which is pretty good for out here. And then my dryland will probably be 500-700 pounds which I didn’t even think I’d have a dryland crop after the last few years. (Jim) So what does that equate to? About two and a half bales per acre or something like that? (Marcus) Yea, a bale, we call 500 pounds is a bale. (Jim) OK, yea. (Marcus) Fifteen hundred pounds would be an excellent crop. (Jim) Where does your cotton go? I know it goes to the gin not far away. But after the gin what’s it used for, do you know? (Marcus) Most of ours is lower quality. It’s more denim quality cotton. A lot of it goes into blue jeans and stuff like that. (Jim) So this jacket could be from this field? (Marcus) Yea, denim jackets. Actually that’s some interesting stuff. A while back where you could trace the bale of cotton to the actual pair of jeans. (Jim) Is that right? (Marcus) One company was trying to do that. I don’t know if they ever got that done, but it was kind of interesting to see. (Jim) And they also use the seed for feed. Correct? (Marcus) Yea, cattle, our cattle on our farm really enjoy eating it. They really like it. It’s high in protein. Dairies us it a lot to boost the milk fat and they’re actually working on a new gene in the seed production to make it edible for fish. So, that will help in the fish production in the world. (Jim) Fish food. (Marcus) Yea, yea exactly. Because they can’t eat it now, it’s got a toxin in it that they can’t digest. (Jim) Right. Right. So, you’ve got your harvest behind you, the strippers and the collectors, and the boll buckets. How long do you think you’re going to be out here? When are you going to wrap this up? (Marcus) Well, we’re supposed to get some rain tomorrow. So, hopefully by Christmas that’s what my hope is. But yea, we should hopefully by the end of next week we’d be done if we don’t get a big rain. (Jim) Do you usually plant, when do you start planting? When does the crop come up? Kind of go through the cycle of that a little bit. (Marcus) Usually around the first week of May is when we like to try to get our crop in. And then usually about August, September, we start to think about stopping the crop, because it’s a perennial. It will keep growing if you don’t kill it. So, we have to spray it and then usually about October, we start. Usually about Halloween is when we get started on cotton harvest for the year. (Jim) And sometimes you take it through December or even longer, right? (Marcus) Yea, last year we had a few fields that we stripped in February. It’s weather dependent. (Jim) Let’s hope you have better luck this year. (Marcus) I hope so. (Jim) OK, alright. Folks, stay with us. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back folks to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host Jim Doblin. We’re in western Kansas near Moscow with Marcus Howe on his farm. And part of Marcus’ farm is actually a test plot for Kansas State University. Marcus, explain what we have here. (Marcus) Oh about five years ago we were approached by Kansas State and they wanted to do an irrigation study and me and another grower and the gin manager sat down and discussed what we’d want. And this is an irrigation test plot. It kind of simulates having limited irrigation that you want to spread between two crops. And these two crops being corn and cotton. (Jim) We know which takes up the more water. (Marcus) Yea, yea, exactly. (Jim) So, what’s the objective of this? (Marcus) To try to figure out the key points that you can switch that limited water from corn to cotton and vice versa to get the more bang for your inch of water, cause it’s a pretty valuable resource out here, our water. (Jim) Exactly. (Marcus) So, we’re trying to make the best of use of it and this is kind of a management tool that they’re trying to develop for us to kind of give us kind of an idea of when we need to keep the water on each crop. (Jim) So, what’s the protocol? Do you irrigate and then, on kind of a schedule? (Marcus) Yea. They handle most of that. I supply the water and they do most of the management. They have different replications in here that are supposed to show what each application of water does. So they’ve got all different kinds. There’s about two acres of crop here. Two and a half, split evenly between corn and cotton. And each four row replication has a matching cotton and corn that kind of go together and meld together. So, it’s just kind of trying to figure out which is the best way to go. (Jim) I see a lot of PVC pipe on the ground here. Are they done with this study? (Marcus) This is the last year of the five years. I haven’t talked to them about if we’re going to extend it. I don’t think we will, but they’ve got a lot of good data. They’ve pulled the pipe up and harvest here. And so, it will still be here next year if they want to come back, I’ll sure welcome them out here. (Jim) The ground is here and this stuff’s here. So, also, you have some fertilizer resistant cotton that is growing. (Marcus) Yea, herbicide. (Jim) Herbicide. Yes. (Marcus) Yes, herbicide resistant. (Jim) Which is going to be key and crucial to your crop in the future. (Marcus) Yea, Kansas State has brought some Enlist Cotton out here. I don’t know a lot about it because it’s kind of in development right now on there. I think it’s more of a trial to see which genes would work the best here. But I was happy to give the land. I’m excited about that technology and we also have an entomology study here at this plot at this location. (Jim) What are you studying here, the Thrips by any chance? (Marcus) They’re trying to study beneficial insects and to try to figure out when to spray, when to not spray, different thresholds, the way it was explained to me. So, it’s kind of exciting. It’s fun to be part of this stuff with the researchers and kind of be on the front line and they’re real good people to work with. So, I enjoy it. (Jim) Well, I mean it looks like hopefully you’ll get some good data out of it. And be able to use it. (Marcus) Yea we have. We’ve already got some good data that’s kind of shown that there are certain points that are beneficial to move that water over and put it on the crop, even though you don’t think so. The data’s there, so it’s nice. (Jim) Excellent. Alright Marcus. Thanks for that explanation and stay with us folks, because we’re going to be going across the street and talk about another variety of corn and wheat when we come back.

(Jim) Welcome back folks to Stevens County Kansas, in western Kansas. I’m your guest host Jim Doblin. And we have Marcus Howe with us on the Howe Family Farm. And in this segment we’re going to talk about a particular brand of corn that Marcus has been cultivating this year at least and kind of explain what’s in the background. (Marcus) I tried some Endogen corn this year. It’s for ethanol production. They offer a premium for it. It has an enzyme that helps break down the starches in the corn which helps produce the ethanol. Just first year for me and then I had it here. I really like it. It was kind of neat having a different practice out here, have a different corn variety that we can manage and be a part of something else new and kind of on the cutting edge. It was interesting this year. (Jim) So, you take this corn just to the ethanol plant? (Marcus) Yea we actually,we can take it directly to the ethanol plant. That’s one of the ways to do it. I deal with a broker that does that for me. I take it to them and then they take it to the ethanol plant. But it does go directly to the ethanol plant. (Jim) Gotcha. Really that’s the only use for this corn. Or is there more? (Marcus) They, I’ve heard that they’re doing research to use it in cattle. It is mostly used in ethanol right now. I think completely used in ethanol. (Jim) As far as water consumption goes, does this corn basically suck up the same kind of water? (Marcus) Yea, there’s really not a lot of difference. The parent varieties are just conventional corn and they inserted a gene is the way I understand it. It’s kind of a simple explanation for a simple guy like me. But that’s kind of what they did and so it’s not much different than a traditional corn variety, it just has an enzyme in it that it expresses in the production of ethanol. (Jim) So, you couldn’t really tell the difference between that, physically? (Marcus) Physically it looks just like No. 2 Yellow Corn. It’s the same deal. So they’re working on stuff to make it purple though, which I think’s kind of neat for us K-Staters. (Jim) Set it apart. Yes of course. Lest we forget. (Marcus) Yea exactly. (Jim) You also now, right next to the corn, you’ve got your winter wheat planted and it’s looking pretty good. And you’ve had some rain, so that’s helped. (Marcus) Yea. This year we’re set up for a pretty good wheat crop. I don’t plant a lot of wheat on my farm. Most of it’s for cover on mine. I mean I will harvest it, but I like to keep the cover on the ground for those dry days when the wind starts blowing out here. But yea, you can’t be a farmer in Kansas without wheat can you? (Jim) Nope. Not really. We wouldn’t be known as the wheat state anymore. (Marcus) Exactly, exactly. (Jim) But right now you’ve got a variety of things going on and as you said cotton is gonna be coming to the fore more and more. (Marcus) Yea, I’m excited about cotton in the future. You know I think we’ve got to be open for the future. You’ve got to be open to new things in farming and the future is pretty bright. I’m excited. (Jim) Alright, great. Marcus thanks. We will be back after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. Stevens County, Kansas, is where we are. Marcus Howe is our guest this morning on his farm, his cotton operation and the rest of it. Marcus, in this final segment, we want to kind of talk about… you’ve been in the business for 10 years. So, you’ve got a long way to go. (Marcus) Hopefully. (Jim) Exactly. And hopefully one of the family members, one of the kids will be interested in this, one of these days, although kind of too early to tell right now. (Marcus) That’s kind of how farming works. We’re training the younger ones always to come up and take over some day. That’s kind of how it works. (Jim) They do like to ride on the machines. Oh ya, they all like to come out and see Dad when he’s busy. And my son’s really into tractors and stuff. That’s all he talks about. Everything is green and all he talks about is how the combine or the tractor runs. (Jim) So, hopefully there’s a generational passage there somewhere. (Marcus) I think so. (Jim) Talk about your operation currently. Where do you see yourself in the next five or so years as far as this operation goes? (Marcus) A little more of the same. Leaning more towards cotton acres. There’s a lot of exciting stuff coming down the pipe in the cotton industry, with new harvesting equipment and new technologies in seed and stuff, I think there’s a lot of room to grow in there. You know we have some exciting stuff coming in the corn markets and stuff too, new with the Endogen corn and new drought tolerant corn that’s supposed to be coming out. It’s kind of an exciting time to be a young farmer and there’s a lot of stuff coming up. That’s what excites me about farming is in the future is just seeing what we can do different to make things better. (Jim) The possibilities are endless. (Marcus) Yea, exactly, exactly. It’s as far as your imagination can take you. (Jim) You were talking about some of the evolution in the cotton industry, you know Kansas is not, when you think of Kansas you think of wheat but out here cotton is pretty prevalent. We’re trying to get it there. It’s..(Jim) You’re never going to get rid of the wheat. But… (Marcus) Yea, it’s I think it has it’s place out here and I think as we get some more of this new technology like I said, coming in, I think you’ll see it be a big part of southwest Kansas, I really think. We’ve got the Governor behind us now and with the water issues out here I think it’s going to be a big part of Kansas. And like I said, it hadn’t been for a long time, but I think it will be really big out here. (Jim) Right. And you’ve had several years of drought and you’ve kind of gotten over that hump. (Marcus) Yes. So, that’s a good thing as well. (Marcus) Yea, we’ve still got a little catching up to do, but this year’s been pretty wet I mean it kind of feels like it’s over. I hope it is. I can get used to wet weather. It’s a lot easier to deal with wet weather than dry weather. (Jim) Right. (Marcus) But I think we’re finally over that, I hope. (Jim) And you still have some, you’ve got your corn, you’ve got milo and some cattle but more the focus on cotton in the future going forward. (Marcus) Yea, that’s where I’m kind of leaning. I do have some corn, some corn acres planned for next year. But it will be a lot of rotation. I think rotation is really important in farming now. We’ve seen it with weed resistance and stuff that rotation’s pretty important. So, I won’t be all cotton, but I won’t be all corn, or sorghum or wheat. They all have their place on my farm. (Jim) Good deal. Marcus Howe, out here in western Kansas. Thank you for joining us by the way. (Marcus) Thank you. (Jim) Folks, stay tuned. We’ll be back next week with another edition of That’s My Farm. See you then.

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

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