Editor’s note: Reporter Mark Boyle takes us behind the scenes of news stories in the area. This week, he catches up with a local farmer who is in the process of fall corn harvest. With the wet weather this year, some farmers have been held back from harvest, creating a late rush at the grain elevators.
Area farmers are working fast and furiously to get their corn fields harvested before their Thanksgiving Day goal. Wet weather has made this year’s harvest both more difficult and delayed.
Stephen Tuttle farms thousands of acres throughout Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties and says there’s always an obstacle to clear — but that’s just life as a farmer.
“Mother Nature always tries to throw something at us,” Tuttle said. “We always seem to find a way to adapt.”
Tuttle began his farming operation in the late 1970s after he used his college money to buy some farm equipment. Now, some 30 years later, Tuttle Farms is vast and uses some of the industry’s most state-of-the-art equipment.
“I started with a 1969 model that we bought used and now we have this newer, modern equipment,” Tuttle said. “We can cut about 10,000 bushels a day, we got GPS on it and also a moisture and yield monitor. (It) also records everything to a data card that I can take home and download to the computer and print maps and gather my information from the fields.”
Tuttle says the American farming industry could be in for a crisis if younger people don’t get into the agriculture. The average age of the American farmer is nearly 60, and Tuttle believes that number needs to change for the nation’s agricultural success to continue.
“It’s going to be a crisis here coming down the road as everybody ages and gets older,” Tuttle said. “The problem has been consolidations. Larger farms seem to get larger, which gets into an area where the younger farmer can’t do it. The capital investment is astounding, so it would be very difficult for a young person to start.”
I not only learned about the past, present and future of the industry, but also some fun facts about corn as well.
“(An ear of) corn always has an even number of rows around it,” Tuttle said. “Usually they average 14 to 16 rows around and then they will be around 40 to 45 kernels long, so an average ear will have about 550 to 600 kernels. And there are 90,000 kernels in a bushel.”
Spending an average of 12 to 14 hours per day farming seven days per week, Tuttle says he enjoys what he does and has even had some people stop and show their appreciation. “We’ve had people that I don’t even know who they were stop in and say thanks. They said thanks for what you do, and I never see them ever again in my life, so it’s kind of nice that they feel that way.”
According to the 6News weather center, the area has received 40.11 inches of rain this year. That is 6.3 inches above the normal rainfall totals.