Faces of Harvest – Chris Tanner

Posted July 8, 2015

Chris Tanner’s wheat near Norton did not have a good year, damaged by spring freeze, resurrected with May rainfall and stricken with stripe rust.

“The wheat was about two days from dying of drought when we hit the wet spell,” Chris said. “Then the rust came in bad when the flag leaf was fully emerged.” 

Luckily, Chris made the decision to apply fungicide to his crop. His wheat yielded between 30 to 50 bushels per acre with test weights of 59 to 62 bushels per acre, in contrast to producers who did not spray who ended the harvest season with yields ranging from 15 to 20 bushels per acre with test weights of 46 to 55 bushels per acre.

And that was the wheat that made it to harvest. Chris reported that many fields showing severe winterkill were replanted to other crops this spring, up to 40 to 50 percent of some varieties.

This poor wheat crop follows an above average harvest last year, when Chris was “very blessed” with fields yielding up to 80 bushels an acre on summer fallow ground and 40 bushels per acre on continuous wheat.

Get Your Voice Heard

Sharing the stories of good harvests and not-so-great ones with legislators is one reason Chris said he has stayed involved in organizations like Kansas Farm Bureau since early on in his farming career.  

“It is easy to stay on the farm and bury your head, but it is important to stay involved in any of the commodity organizations to get your voice heard,” he said. “Our legislative representatives do not know what troubles we are having on the farm unless we tell them.”

Staying abreast of larger agricultural issues was emphasized early to Chris during his high school involvement in FFA. Because he moved home to farm his grandfather’s land straight out of high school, he emphasized viewing involvement in agricultural organizations as his continuing education.

Today, his fully no-till farm encompasses more than 3,000 acres of wheat and corn in addition to a beef operation and custom planting and harvesting for others in his area. As his operation has grown, so has that involvement. Initially approached by a neighbor while fueling a tractor, Chris agreed to join the county Farm Bureau board before serving on the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee with wife Tina and now as the District 10 representative on the Kansas Farm Bureau Resolutions Committee.

Chris also serves on the board of the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership (KARL) program, a two-year intensive education, training and travel program – more of that continuing education. Chris was a member of Class XI, which traveled to Peru as part of their program. Chris said there, agriculture is very different, but the spirit of farmers remains the same everywhere.

Next Generation

While this year’s wheat harvest may have been disappointing, the future seems bright for Chris and his family – wife Tina, daughter Shelby and son Greyson. That also includes summer hand Cole Renner, who has worked for Chris for five summers and is now pursuing an agronomy degree. With an excellent education system and growing industries, Chris’s hometown is thriving and so is his farm.

After all, as Chris said, “I firmly believe I live in the best part of the world.”  

by Julia Debes