Tom & Evan Leahy Farm

(Jim) Good morning and welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host Jim Doblin and we are near Moscow, Kansas. No Kremlin here, but plenty of cotton and cotton harvesting on the Tom and Evan Leahy Farm. We’ll talk to Tom and Evan about their family operation, the kind of crops they grow, winter wheat among them, and some water issues that are prevalent out here in western Kansas. Stay tuned, 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 everyone, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host Jim Doblin. We are near Moscow, Kansas, or as the locals say Mosco, but we’re not gonna go there. We’re on the farm of Tom and Evan Leahy today, out in western Kansas and they’ve got quite a variety of crops and a story to tell. Tom, you first. How long has your family been in this area and in this operation? (Tom) My Great Grandfather homesteaded here and he started farming here in 1888. (Jim) Right. (Tom) And we’ve been here on the same location since that time. My Grandfather and Dad farmed here before me and now my son Evan… (Jim) …has kind of taken the reigns a little bit, in the day-to-day operation, I would say. (Tom) Yes, yes. (Evan) And I have a couple boys that will hopefully want to keep it going on. (Jim) So hopefully the tradition is probably going to continue for at least the next couple of generations. (Evan) Yes. (Jim) That’s great, that’s great. So Evan kind of tell us about your crop rotation a little bit. What do you have out here? (Evan) Well, we have corn, milo, wheat, cotton of course. And just depending where we’re at, and what field we’re on is a water issue if we have enough water to have a corn crop. And if we don’t we’ll put cotton there. And then a lot of fields we’ll go and rotate corn one year and then we’ll rotate cotton the next year to keep the weeds taken care of. (Jim) Sure, sure. (Evan) And some fields, like this one, such low water, we’ve got to, we rotate this one with wheat and cotton and go back, back and forth, cause we just can’t water corn, it takes too much water. (Jim) Right. And cotton is a better crop as far as water concerns go, correct? (Evan) Yea. Yea, it takes quite a bit less water. I think this well here pumps 250 gallons, maybe. Which is very low gallons. (Jim) Right. (Evan) We have quite a bit of dryland. We do a lot of dryland farming. (Tom) It’s about half and half. (Evan) And the dryland is, we do a lot in rotation in thirds. We’ll summer fallow and wheat and a cotton crop. And we’ll rotate that. So, we’re always trying to summer fallow one, so they’ll do better and you know… (Jim) Right. And I understand there’s some cattle also in the picture. (Evan) There is some cattle. He runs some cattle. How many do you have? (Tom) Couple hundred head of mama cows. (Jim) OK. So, how has the year been for you as far as crops? Has the drought kind of abated a little bit out here? (Evan) It’s better. This year’s been a lot better. We’ve got a lot of rain. (Tom) We haven’t harvested a dryland wheat crop since 2010. We’ve had a 10-15 bushel dryland wheat crop this next season for 16 weeks, expect to get back to our 35 bushel dryland wheat. (Jim) Alright. Tom and Evan, stay here. We’ll be right back folks, after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back once again to That’s My Farm. We’re in western Kansas today near Moscow on the farm of Tom and Evan Leahy. And they’ve got quite an operation here and one of the things they do grow and harvest is cotton. We’re gonna talk about cotton next. Your crop this year is looking pretty good Tom. (Tom) Yes. Two and a half to three bale cotton, we think. (Jim) Good and you gin it, like five miles away, so you don’t have to travel far to the gin. (Tom) Yes, we harvest it and the gin picks it up at the field, so we only are responsible for the harvesting. (Jim) Now, you said you got into cotton in the ’90s, correct? (Tom) The late ’90s we had little test plots, but the reason we did, a fellow southeast of Wichita was raising it and had an article in the High Plains Journal. But because of our water situation, we’re losing our irrigation water. It’s smaller and smaller wells. We knew that cotton was a good drought tolerance crop. So, we started with cotton and we found out that we can raise a good crop. Three bale cotton with our small water situations where it won’t, where we can’t raise corn. Corn is the crop of choice in this part of the country, but the cotton, we can’t raise a profitable corn crop on a small well. So, the cotton works good for us. (Jim) Evan how far along are you on the harvest now? When do you wrap up? (Evan) We, pending the weather, we should be done probably by next Wednesday. So, we’re getting pretty close. Getting about 80 percent done. (Jim) Right, good. And Tom you mentioned next year, your acreage cotton wise should increase dramatically. And why is that? (Tom) Well, our biggest problem with cotton here in southwest Kansas is 2,4-D drift and we’ve had some problems the last couple years with the 2,4-D drift. But Dow Chemical is coming out with a 2,4-D resistant cotton and with that they’ll have some availability of seed next year, but in 2017 we’ll have enough to plant the whole farm if we want to. So, when that happens we can plant our 2,4-D cotton, and if neighbors need to use 2,4-D to control weeds on across the road, it won’t affect our… (Jim) Right. (Tom)…what we’re doing. We won’t affect them. They’ll be happy and we’ll… (Jim) And everybody will be happy, yea, exactly. And this is a new product and not available this year, but next year, right? (Tom) Only on a limited basis. But the next year it will be on across the board. (Jim) Great, great. And so cotton operation in the next couple of weeks will be wrapped up here. And then do you plant anything over this or do you double crop? (Evan) No, we’ll just leave it like this and we’ll come in and we’ll probably strip till between the rows and we’ll, actually this one is gonna go to weed actually, so we’ll just leave it as is. (Jim) There you go. Alright folks, we’ll be right back with Tom and Evan Leahy, here in Moscow, Kansas, right after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host Jim Doblin with Evan and Tom Leahy on their operation near Moscow, Kansas, and we’re gonna talk a little bit about the winter wheat crop out here in western Kansas this year and either of you guys can start it up. Maybe Evan you can tell us how the crop is progressing so far. (Evan) It’s doing really well, we got plenty of rain this year. So, it’s coming up. We didn’t even have to water it. (Jim) Yea, I saw some puddles on the way in, some pooling. (Evan) Yea. And it’s been a week or two since we’ve had any moisture. But the wheat’s coming up and looking good and hope to have a good harvest. (Jim) So, how much acreage do you reserve for wheat and row spacing and that kind of stuff? (Evan) That’s a good question. Do I have 2,000 acres of wheat? Something like that? (Tom) Yes. (Jim) Two thousand? (Evan) Yea. And probably more dryland than irrigated. (Jim) Right. So how much do you irrigate then? Probably like a quarter of it? (Tom) That depends…well about half of the acres are irrigated but it depends on how much rain we get in the spring on how much water we apply. It can be anywhere from five to 12 inches of additional irrigation water that we put on the wheat. (Jim) And how is your weed control and fertilizer situation going? (Evan) Good, going pretty good. (Jim) What do you usually use? (Evan) We put down some dry with an air seeder we run. And we’ll put down some phosphorus and blend it in when we drill it. (Jim) OK. (Tom) If we have good moisture, we’ll top dress the wheat with 30-40 pounds of nitrogen in the spring. (Jim) OK. And usually you harvest what, June? May, June something like that? (Tom) Yea, June 18th to the 21st is the normal. (Evan) Like to be done by the 4th of July but it doesn’t normally happen. (Jim) Nothing ever works on schedule apparently. (Evan) No. (Jim) So, you talked about water issues here and the scarcity of water becoming more of a problem. (Evan) Right. (Tom) Yes, wheat isn’t a good irrigated crop. It’s not as profitable as cotton or corn. But it’s a good rotation crop. And if you don’t have enough water and that’s why we plant some irrigated wheat is because we don’t have water for a summer crop. So, that’s the reason we have some irrigated wheat. (Jim) Right. And what is the prognosis for the wheat crop you think for this spring? (Tom) Very good for 2016 crop wheat we plan to get back to our 35-40 bushel dryland and 75 bushel irrigated. (Jim) Did you have a good year last year? (Evan) It was better than it’s been but still not up to par. (Jim) Right, cause you still have the remnants of the drought really. (Evan and Tom) Yea. (Jim) OK. We have to take another break folks. We’ll be back on the Leahy Farm near Moscow after these words from our sponsors.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m your guest host Jim Doblin with Evan Leahy on the Leahy Farm out in Stevens County, Kansas, near Moscow. And we’re going to talk a little bit about milo. They are still harvesting milo as we speak. Evan, unusual because it’s a little bit late this year. (Evan) It is. We’ve had a lot of rain this year, which is a good thing so it’s put us behind and we’re trying to get through it right now. So, we’ve got about 30 acres left and they’ll be wrapping it up here in a little bit. (Jim) Yea, you never want to complain about too much rain, because…unless you’re flooded out. Out here that’s a good thing. (Evan) Right, we’ve been in such a drought for the last several years that we’re glad to be finally getting it. (Jim) You plant mostly dryland milo? (Evan) Well, we normally plant a lot of dryland cotton, but the last year it’s been so dry that we just almost couldn’t really get it in, so we went ahead and went with the milo cause it can be planted a little bit later. And that’s what we did and it’s turned out really well. This year we’ve had some really good numbers in the milo, almost record breaking for the dryland. We’ve had a really good year. We’ve had in the 80, 90, 100 bushel range on the dryland milo. So we’ve done really good. And we didn’t have any cotton this year so we’ve had a long, long… (Jim) How does milo fit into your crop rotation? Do you use it as a backstop, as if like if you can’t plant anything, we’ve got the milo. (Evan) Right. Yea, usually we’ll go to wheat stubble. We’ll go in and we’ll want to replant cotton there. But if we don’t we’ll put in the milo. So, we can do either one. And typically go with the cotton like I said. But this year we just didn’t quite get any cotton in, and just went mostly to milo. (Jim) And the crop though does look good. It’s an outstanding crop. (Evan) Been very, very good this year, yes. (Jim) And prices for milo are not so great. (Evan) Not so good. We did haul some of our milo. We mostly take it to the local elevator. But we did take some to the ethanol plant over in Liberal and they’re paying a little better over there. So, we did get a little more for our milo over that way. (Jim) Yea, they’re expanding the uses for milo, so don’t give it up, it’s always a good backstop, right? (Evan) Yea, we like it as a dryland crop. It’s easy to raise and it doesn’t take a lot of rain either. (Jim) But you said you’re probably gonna be, on this field next year will not be milo. (Evan) No, it will not. We’ll probably just summer fallow this and then it will go back to wheat after it’s summer fallowed. (Jim) Right. And you know as far as acreage out here, how much have you devoted to milo as your crop this year? (Evan) On the farm? (Jim) Yep. (Evan) I think on the dryland we’ve got a little over 2,000 acres probably and then probably another 2,000 acres of irrigated milo. So, we had quite a bit this year. (Jim) Lots of milo. OK, great Evan. We’ll be right back after these words from our sponsors. Stay with us.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. We are with Evan and Tom Leahy in Stevens County, western Kansas. And we are talking about their farm operation which is very diverse, including cotton, corn, wheat and milo. They also have livestock. And Tom you have had cattle since you’ve started. (Tom) Yes. My Great Grandfather and Grandfather had cattle always. In 2011 when the drought hit, we sold cattle and that was the first time we haven’t had cattle on the farm and ranch forever. But we were able, last year we bought some first calf heifers and calved out several. (Jim) Cow/calf operation. (Tom) Cow/calf operation. There’s spring calving and so we wean in the fall and put the calves on wheat and sell them in March in the spring and they’re 800 pound calves. It works good with our farming operation. We have irrigated corn stalks and milo stalks for the cattle for winter pasture. And the grass is just for summertime grazing. (Jim) Good. What’s the size of the herd? What are you comfortable with usually? (Tom) Well, just getting back in the cattle business, they’ve been awful high, so we’re slow getting started. We’ll have 300 to 400 mama cows when we get back to full force again. (Jim) Right. (Tom) It’s just free pasture, so it works. It’s a good complement to the farm. The cattle and the farming work well together. (Evan) And it keeps us busy in the wintertime. Very busy some days. (Jim) Cause you don’t want to be not busy. (Evan) No. No. (Jim) So, Evan I mean obviously the operation is kind of passing on to you. And then you were telling me hopefully to your sons and daughter. Do you have a daughter? (Evan) Two daughters, yes. (Jim) So, hopefully somebody is going to take this thing over on your side one of these days. (Evan) I’m sure either one, or both or all four. Somebody will surely do it. I don’t have to twist anybody’s arm anyway. (Jim) Right. And Tom I’m sure you’re happy about that because these days it’s tough to make it. (Tom) Yes, it is. It’s hard to get started in farming these days and it’s nice. I enjoy it. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have someone. But I enjoy farming. But it’s nice to be able to pass it on because it came to me and it will get passed on. (Jim) Yea and you know Evan is going to take care of it now. So, that kind of a done deal at least for the near term. (Tom) Yes, yes. (Jim) And so Evan, what do you see as the future of this operation? Do you see more cotton? Do you see, take me through that a little bit. (Evan) Everything is going to go about the same as it has been. It’s just what we’ve gotten used to and what we know. But the cotton for sure, we’re looking, we like the cotton and it’s a good crop to raise, so we’re gonna do that more but everything will just kind of go on like it has been for the last 120 years or so. (Jim) And that includes the cattle? (Evan) Yea, that will give him something to do when he retires. I’ll let him go out and check the cows anyway. One of these days. (Jim) Tom, you feel needed now, don’t you? (Tom) Put me out to pasture right there. (Jim) Along with the cows. (Tom) Yes, yes. (Jim) Well guys thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us today on That’s My Farm. (Evan) Appreciate it. (Jim) Evan and Tom Leahy, out here near Moscow, Kansas, and thanks for watching today folks. And we’ll be back next week, next Friday with another edition of That’s My Farm. We’ll 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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