Kansas farmer harvests 25 billionth bushel of wheat

Posted July 18, 2013

MANHATTAN, Kan-On July 9, at Solomon Creek Farms near Colby, the 25th billionth bushel of wheat in the past 100 years of Kansas farming was harvested. Mike Brown, co-owner of Solomon Creek Farms, caught the grain in a bushel basket as his son Tanner unloaded the combine into a grain cart. 

Over the past 100 years, productivity and determination have allowed Kansas farmers to produce over 25 billion bushels of wheat, which equals more than 1 trillion commercial loaves of bread. 

Often referred to as "The Wheat State," Kansas has earned a reputation for wheat production. On average Kansas is the largest wheat producing state with nearly one-fifth of all the wheat in the United States grown in Kansas.  

Mike sees this accomplishment of 25 billion bushels as testament to the hard work farmers continue to put forth every single day, during the good times and the bad.

"I think it’s very symbolic of the perseverance and dedication that the Kansas farmer has done over the past 100 years," Mike said. 

Harvesting the 25th billionth bushel at their farm was an honor for the entire Brown family, as they share a rich history in farming. Mike is a first generation farmer who got his start in agriculture by working as a farm hand for a couple who became his in-laws. He and his wife, Jeanene, now farm that same land today. Their son Tanner and his wife, Carla, run the operation with Mike. Tanner is a 6th generation farmer, as his mother’s family has been farming in Thomas County for over 100 years. Mike and Tanner are both active leaders in the industry. Mike has served as a commissioner on the Kansas Wheat Commission. Meanwhile Tanner was just accepted to the 12th class of the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership program. 

As a farmer in northwestern Kansas, Mike has seen his fair share of the struggles of agricultural life. The past few years, his farm has felt the negative effects of long-term drought. However, the silver lining of production agriculture keeps Mike and farmers like him moving forward. This year, even though the drought cut his yields, Mike was ecstatic about the quality of his wheat. 

"I guess what keeps us going is that farmers seem to be eternal optimists. We always think next year is going to be better," Mike said.

Mike also accredits several changes in technology that have allowed farmers to conquer the daily challenges on the farm. Through improved seed genetics and equipment, the production per person has changed dramatically over the past 100 years. Mike also believes that management techniques such as no-till and crop rotations have given a boost to the productivity and success of farmers.

"I think it is a pretty impressive milestone for the Kansas wheat producers. Obviously there is a reason they call us the wheat state," Mike says. 

While 25 billion bushels of wheat harvested is a mighty accomplishment, just like any farmer, Mike has his view set on the future. He believes that the future will bring many new opportunities for farmers and just as it has in the past it will also bring obstacles. However, progression in farming and the wheat industry is something that Mike is sure will continue. 

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Kansas State Fair. The public is invited to celebrate the success of the fair and agriculture across the state of Kansas at this year's state fair in Hutchinson, September 6-15. The 25th billionth bushel will be on display at the Kansas Wheat booth in the Pride of Kansas Building.  

Story by Nicole Lane
Kansas Wheat Communications Intern