Steve Schmidt Farm

(Jim) Good morning everybody and welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host Jim Doblin and we’re in cotton country, near Caldwell, Kansas, in Sumner County on the farm of Steve Schmidt, who farms cotton, milo, soybeans, winter wheat and a variety of other crops. He also has some livestock, namely sheep. We’ll talk to Steve about all of that when we return. Stay with us.Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.

(Jim) Good morning and welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host Jim Doblin. We’re in Sumner County at the Steve Schmidt Farm. And usually we talk about corn, soybeans. But today we’ve got another crop to talk about, and it’s a crop that Steve got involved with many, many years ago and that’s cotton, in the field behind us. Steve welcome to the program. Kind of tell me about the history of your farm and what you do. (Steve) Well, my Dad starting farming here in around ’32 and in 1980 was when I bought it from my Dad and family. And since then we’ve progressed more away from the wheat and into more diversification of other crops. And so we have a fair diversity of all the crops. And then in ’95 was also when I switched to no till. (Jim) OK, you talked about the variety of crops, the diversity you have. Let’s run through all of your crops. What do you have on this property? (Steve) We started out with corn, and then in late April we can be planting grain sorghum milo. Then in May we have cotton. Early June we’ll be planting soybeans. We’ll be harvesting wheat in June and then turn around and plant a subsequent crop or a second crop of milo or soybeans and then we start harvesting in August or September on corn and progress into February is usually then the end of our cotton harvest. (Jim) That late? (Steve) That late. (Jim) Wow, you don’t get much rest do you? (Steve) Well, we try to keep busy. (Jim) And on top of all of that, you have some livestock as well. Well you have sheep. (Steve) Yes, yes. (Jim) Talk about that a little bit. (Steve) When my Dad was farming we had both registered Angus cattle and sheep and as he got older he got out of the Angus cattle. I had cattle up until ’95 also. Because of the shortage of grass, I finally went ahead and sold them and stayed primarily with the sheep. (Jim) Right, right. And you use the sheep for both wool and meat, correct? (Steve) Yes sir. (Jim) So, you’ve basically got two fabric styles covered here, the wool and the cotton. (Steve) Yes. (Jim) And we see this gorgeous field of white behind us. You’re having a pretty good year, cotton-wise. (Steve) Yes, we are. The last couple of years, we’ve had some timely rains to allow us to optimize our yield on the cotton. (Jim) And we’ll talk about this a little bit more in depth in the next segment, but cotton doesn’t need much moisture or it needs a certain amount at certain times. (Steve) The basic plant requires about six inches of moisture which is pretty low for all the crops. And then every inch of moisture after that six inches will produce about 100 pounds of cotton. So, it’s very water efficient. (Jim) Right. And do you double crop on this or do you leave this? Once this is done what happens to this field, as soon as we’re done harvesting the cotton in February we have about 30 days to apply during March, to apply fertilizers or make any modifications to the field we need to and then we would be planting corn into these cotton stalks. (Jim) Great. Alright well Steve Schmidt, hang on here and hang on folks, we’ve got to take a brief break. Well be back with more of That’s My Farm in just a moment.

(Jim) Welcome back folks to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host, Jim Doblin on the Steve Schmidt Farm in Sumner County near Caldwell, Kansas, not far from Oklahoma actually, right Steve? (Steve) You’re right, about ten miles. (Jim) You grow cotton among other crops, among a variety of crops. Talk about what’s involved with these plants, when you plant, and you know the care and feeding of the stuff. (Steve) We start out generally in mid-May, we have to have about 60 degree soil temperatures for the plant to grow very well, and then we monitor all of our cotton or all of our fields twice a week at least to see whether or not we’re having any insect damage or the stage of growth, speed in which the plant is growing. If it gets to growing too fast we sometimes have to apply a growth retardant an auxin inhibitor that reduces cellular elongation and that will stay in the plant for about two weeks. (Jim) Right. You talked about the growth rate of this plant. What you said, three days for a…(Steve) Yea, between each of these plants the cotton is very, very predictable and between each of these vertical nodes, the cotton is three days of growth and then between each of these bolls out is six days. (Jim) Wow. (Steve) And so this three inches here is longer than we like to have, but that is three days growth. So, it averaged over an inch a day. (Jim) Right. You’ll take the whole plant, correct? (Steve) What it does is we leave the plant in the ground, we just pull these bolls off… (Jim) OK. (Steve) …with a stripper. (Jim) What do you like to see as far as rainfall and when? (Steve) Well, it doesn’t use a whole lot of moisture until it starts to flower and that’s going to be the last part of July, the first of August. (Jim) Right. (Steve) And… (Jim) It’s probably when you don’t get enough rain. (Steve) Well, actually we have a pretty high incidence of a two inch rainfall the first week of August. And if we can get that we have a pretty decent crop. This year we had good rainfall through July into the first of August and then it just pretty much shuts off after that. But we had enough moisture into the soil with this deep root system it was able to utilize that and go ahead to make a very good crop. (Jim) And where does this cotton end up? (Steve) It’s a high quality cotton. So, they can use it in any clothing or any type of use of cotton. (Jim) So, the shirts we’re wearing could very well be from this cotton. (Steve) Yes. (Jim) And you take it to local gins, correct? (Steve) Yes, we have two gins within about 40 miles of here. (Jim) How long does it take to harvest a field of cotton like this? (Steve) Well we have two of the larger type of strippers available with eight rows and we can do ten or so acres an hour. We have to have low humidity, so our days are fairly short, four to five hours is about as long as we can harvest. (Jim) Right. And you said you got into the cotton business in the 80’s or the 90’s? (Steve) It was mid-90s, ’95 was my first. (Jim) 90’s. What made you decide to go into cotton? (Steve) I was looking at a variety of crops that we could grow. And with its water use efficiency, I tried sesame and sunflowers and then cotton and cotton came up the winner above soybeans as far as reliability and its water use efficiency. (Jim) So here we are. (Steve) Yes. (Jim) Alright folks, we’ll be back after these words from our sponsors. Stay tuned for more from the Steve Schmidt Farm near Caldwell, Kansas.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. We’re on the Steve Schmidt Farm near Caldwell, Kansas. He farms cotton. He’s got milo, he’s got corn, he’s got beans, and he also has wheat. And we see the winter wheat planted behind you. So, you’ve got quite a rotation here. (Steve) Well, that way we can keep something growing just about all the time. So when we do get weather that is advantageous to a particular crop we have a crop out there that can take advantage of it. (Jim) Right. (Steve) After cotton, when we get that harvested in February, by the first of April to the middle of April we’ll be planting the corn. In September we’ll be harvesting the corn, which this was harvested last September. And then the end of September, first of October we will be planting the wheat. We’ve been grazing this about 30 days now and so it’s down a little bit on its growth. We’re ready for a fall application of fertilizer on it. (Jim) You talked about your no till practices, how long have you been doing that. (Steve) Since ’95. So, we’ve been at it what 20 years now. (Jim) Wow. The benefits of that? (Steve) Well, the advantage of no till besides producing field inputs and stabilizes our soil, it allows us to do a better job of cycling our nutrients and keeping nutrients available to the plants, reduces erosion immensely and retains a lot of moisture. I have that type of rotation on all my landlord’s ground also to reduce their risk. But here it also allows me to have the number of acres I won’t have…of a year, that I will not have some grazing available, if I have it broke up with a variety of crops. (Jim) Right. (Steve) Research indicates that if you plant a crop behind itself or following itself, regardless of tillage practices, you’re going to lose 10 percent. So just don’t do that. And that way when I’m rotating between spring planted crops and fall planted crops, I can tuck them in right behind the harvest of another one. And that allows me to transition between crops without a time lag. (Jim) This year’s been pretty good, all around, for crops. (Steve) Yes, it has. Yes it has. The wheat was not very good because it was dry up until the middle of May, so that was our you know, we have crops that were able to utilize that moisture the end of May and into June. And that’s where the advantage of having the rotation. (Jim) Alright. We’ll be back following these brief messages and we’re going to talk to Steve about his livestock, which is another part of the fabric end of this operation. So, stay tuned. We’ll be right back.

(Jim) Welcome once again to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host Jim Doblin, along with Steve Schmidt in Caldwell, Kansas, on his farm and sheep ranch. Steve, you have some livestock that being sheep, to compliment I guess, your cotton because you’ve got two fabrics, you’ve got the wool over here. (Steve) Yes. (Jim) And the cotton over there. (Steve) Yes. (Jim) How big is the herd and when did you get into the sheep raising business? (Steve) In 1980 was when I got started with sheep and had cattle also up until ’95. And then due to available acres of grass and other cropping time requirements, I got out of the cattle and kept the sheep. In the 80s I was running around 400 head of ewes and also getting in about 4,000 feeder lambs through the winter. And that also quit in ’95. I have just been maintaining a ewe herd of around 200 head. (Jim) And you’ve basically let them graze on the land behind us. (Steve) Yes, letting them do the harvesting is most efficient. And so I just want to try to keep between the summer crops and then the winter wheat, allow them to do all the harvesting. (Jim) Right. So, they’re doing the work for you. (Steve) Well yes. Yes. (Jim) That’s a good thing. And you get wool and meat out of the sheep. (Steve) Yes I do, yes I do. As commercial, we’re not doing registered herd. It’s commercial production. So, we’re going for both meat and we use the fine wool breed, so we do have quality wool. (Jim) And when do you usually sheer the sheep? Springtime? (Steve) Normally in the middle of April, first of April is when we’ll sheer them. When we had feeder lambs, we sheered every month. But in the ewe flock the best time is in April right before we go into the breeding season. (Jim) Right. And how do you maintain the herd? You’ve got a dog, one dog or two dogs? (Steve) I’ve got one Border Collie for helping, to help move the sheep and then I have a Pyrenees/Border Collie cross, that’s…he leans toward the Pyrenees; he’s a big white dog and he’s very good about keeping the coyotes at bay and guarding the sheep. (Jim) Because coyotes can be a problem? (Steve) They definitely are a problem, yea. (Jim) So, he does that work. And as far as the meat you get out of these, what lamb chops? What kind of yield do you get out of them? (Steve) Well, we sell these to commercial processors and so they’re shipped to Colorado to be slaughtered. Then they’re sold throughout the U.S. (Jim) Do you envision branching out into any other livestock or is the sheep about all you can handle? (Steve) For the time requirements that we have, the restrictions I have toyed with, since I’ve gained some more ground with some more pasture, going into more cattle. But at this time, I’m still into sheep. (Jim) Well, Steve Schmidt in Caldwell, Kansas, on his farm in Sumner County with the sheep. We’re going to return for these messages with more of That’s My Farm. Stay with us.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm on the Steve Schmidt Farm near Caldwell, Kansas, in Sumner County. I’m your guest host, Jim Doblin. And Steve has got a multitude of crops, some livestock that being sheep. And he’s about ready harvest the last crop of this fall and that’s cotton. And Steve, you were telling me that you actually harvested cotton all the way til February. (Steve) Yes, usually we can get started on after the frost or the end of October and due to weather restrictions we may end up into February usually. (Jim) OK, and these machines behind us, these are strippers? (Steve) Yes. (Jim) Explain what they do. (Steve) They have brush and bat that each row goes by. They revolve in the opposite direction of what you’re going and that pulls the cotton off of the plant. So, basically your plant is going through here, these are rotating opposite the way you’re going and that pulls the cotton off. Versus a picker, they have a spindle that pulls the cotton out while the plant is still green. But these take everything off the plant to run to it. (Jim) So, you’re getting every boll basically off of these plants? (Steve) Yes. (Jim) With the stripper. (Steve) Yes. (Jim) You’ve got an eight head stripper? (Steve) Yes, both of them are eight row head. (Jim) OK. And usually this process then…what happens after it lands in here. What happens to the cotton? How is it formed into bales? (Steve) Well when it goes out of the head, it will go in through a burr extractor to pull the burrs out of the cotton. That will leave primarily the lint and seed into the baskets. We’ll dump into a boll buggy and that will take it over to a module builder. And the module builder is what is used to pack those into those large loads of modules. (Jim) Right. And those things are…how long are they? And how much do they weigh? Cause they look pretty substantial. I don’t think we could lift one of those. (Steve) No, they’re around nine foot tall and seven and half foot wide, 32 foot long. And they’ll weigh around 20,000 pounds. (Jim) And how many modules do you get out of these fields every year, roughly? (Steve) Well, each modules has about 12 bales. So, if you have baled an acre of cotton that would be 12 acres worth. This year we’re running about two bales to the acre, and so about… (Jim) It was a good year for you. (Steve) Yes, yes, yes. We’ve been running about one and half bales to two bales, 900 to 1,000 pounds of cotton a year. (Jim) Right. (Steve) So, about every six acres we have a module and that normally takes us about a half hour to build each module. (Jim) Wow. And then you cover them? (Steve) Yes, with tarps. (Jim) And then someone comes and picks them up. The gin picks them up in trucks. (Steve) Yes, after we get a module done, we tarp it to protect it from wind and moisture. We tag it with the gin number and they will come, we call ’em and they come pick ’em up and take ’em to a module field to process later. (Jim) And the gins surprisingly are not very far away from you, you’ve got one east and west, correct? (Steve) Yep, both are around 35 or 40 miles away. (Jim) Wow, that’s great. So, you really don’t have much in the way of transportation. (Steve) No, it does require a specialized truck to pick those modules up, but they have them. (Jim) When are you going to be done with your harvest this year, you think? (Steve) We’re sure going to be pushing February. (Jim) OK, you’ve got nice mild weather, good luck with that. (Steve) Thank you. (Jim) Steve, good to talk with you out here near Caldwell, Kansas. And thank you folks for watching That’s My Farm. We’ll be back with another edition, so stay with us. 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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