Posted July 14, 2015
Richard, an at-large Commissioner on the Kansas Wheat Commission since 2005, said that the recent changes to the wheat industry – like the increased use of doubled haploids and the construction of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center – have been dramatic, but exciting for Kansas farmers.
“It is mind-boggling to see all that has transpired,” he said. “It is pretty satisfying to look back at all that has happened.”
A History of Partnership
Richard and Glenda farm near Scott City on Glenda’s family farm, which was established in the early 1900s. Glenda is the fourth generation to farm on Rudolph land in Scott County. Her family originally raised Percheron draft horses in addition to other farming activities. Today, the horse barn is a storage shed and the milking barn is Richard’s shop.
The pair met while attending Fort Hays State University. Although Richard was from Ashland, the couple eventually moved to Glenda’s hometown of Scott City in 1968.
The couple initially started farming with Glenda’s father, but the farm was too small at that time to support two families. So, Glenda taught school and the couple started a custom haying and farrow-to-finish hog operation to support themselves until additional farm land could be rented.
Today, Richard and Glenda grow irrigated corn, irrigated wheat, dryland wheat and dryland sorghum. Both said they enjoy their time out in the field – especially during wheat and fall harvest when Richard runs the combine and Glenda operates the grain cart.
“We have been doing this long enough that we are pretty efficient in the field,” Richard said.
“It is a year-end hoorah when we harvest,” Glenda added.
Richard pointed out that while he runs the combine at harvest, Glenda is in charge when it comes to planting the wheat crop.
“I do not get to drill much wheat,” Richard said. “I’m the go-fer.”
Richard pointed out that he does plant the corn and sorghum crops.
“I like my tractor,” Glenda said. “I am a woman before my age. But, I would not do anything else.”
Addressing Future Challenges
Richard and Glenda have watched their farm’s irrigation shift from open ditch to gated pipe to today’s center pivots. Their operation lies in the Highway 83 corridor, a highly profitable stretch of land in recent years thanks to that irrigation. Both agree that diminishing water resources from the Ogallala Aquifer will make that prosperity a continued challenge.
“The Rudolph family made a lot of changes during the Dirty 30s and the Depression, and we have had a lot of good production years since then with irrigation,” Richard said. “We are working on maintaining as much of that productivity as possible while using less water.”
Glenda said that they will likely still irrigate, but may shift acreage away from corn to less water intensive crops.
“Everyone is facing this situation in good faith,” Glenda said. “Irrigation is an expensive resource. So, we are changing how and what we are irrigating.”
After decades of working together to expand and improve farming operations as well as address challenges like water use, Richard said they will eventually have to learn “how to slow down,” adding, “We have not figured out how to do that.”
Glenda has a thought for after she completes a second term on the local hospital board and Richard finishes his service as a Kansas Wheat Commissioner.
“We might do something crazy – like go on a vacation,” she said. “For a week!”