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Class XIII Curriculum

"Southeastern Oklahoma Agriculture and Industry"

 Seminar X


October 3, 2007
Scribe: Tammi Didlot

Discussion of Poultry Production in Leflore County – Kenneth Risenhoover, NRCS Leflore County

  • Poultry production in Leflore County is a very big help to the economy.

  • In 2007, it is one of the largest poultry lbs. producing counties in the state.

  • Most of the farms were built in the early 90’s and there haven’t been any new facilities within the last 5 years.

  • This is primarily due to the increased costs in building materials and expenses and also the lawsuit regarding poultry waste.

  • Most of the farms in the area have a contract with OK Farms. They shoot for an 8lb bird. They also grow their own eggs.

  • The liter makes a very nice fertilizer.

Next we heard from Dr. Jim Horne from the Kerr Center.

  • He has been at the Kerr Center since 1972.

  • The Kerr Center is 4,000 acres that was gifted by the estate of Senator Kerr.

  • 2,400 acres pasture land and 1,600 in hardwood/pine/forestry.

  • There is a large wildlife presence; however, there is no hunting.

  • There are wildlife corridors and sustainable best practices are in place.

  • There are more than 112 pastures on the ranch.

  • Rotational grazing is utilized extensively.

  • The Kerr Foundation does a lot of work with OSU.

  • They are very involved in several Programs like Historical Farm, Public Policy, Organic and Food Systems Research. They believe in helping farmers to learn how to control wastes.

Mary Pennick spoke to us next. She is an Animal Science Graduate from OSU

  • Mary works with the Livestock at the Kerr Center.

  • There is a Piney Wood Cattle herd of 90 with a goal of 150 head.

  • The Piney Wood breed is a cousin to the Longhorn breed. They are listed as critical due to the limited number.

  • She also briefly mentioned the Goat project for OSU. Genetics are being tracked and they are studying the wormer resistance.

George Kipper is a rehire for the Kerr Center and is involved in the horticulture field.

  • He discussed several studies and trials that have occurred at Kerr Center to include the Paw Paw Tree and the variety trial for blueberries. Also the sorghum studies were mentioned. They are in the process of rebuilding the program and haven’t completely outlined the plan yet.

David Redhage discussed the forestry part of the Kerr Center

  • There are areas where they are taking pastures back to forestry production.

  • They are utilizing Agri-forestry.

  • He also discussed the 44 oil and gas wells on the ranch. There are both horizontal and vertical wells.

  • The Legal Counsel – Anita Poole discussed the provisions outlined in many of their contracts that are essential in preserving both environmental and economical issues.

The day at the Kerr Center ended with an excellent dinner provided to us by Dave and Darlene Shaw. Dave was in Class X. Darlene served a potato casserole that was outstanding and agreed to provide a recipe, which I agreed to provide to the class:

Hot Potato Salad

5lb Red Skinned Potatoes
9 Boiled Eggs Diced
½ Gallon of cooked crumbled bacon with the some of the grease drippings.
Mayo (Add to consistency)
¼ cup of regular mustard
Garlic powder and Cajun spice to taste.

Cook the potatoes until almost soft. Partially Mash leaving a little chunky add the diced eggs and bacon in casserole dish. You will want to mix the Mayo and Mustard into the potatoes/eggs & bacon. Utilize enough Mayo to give it a potato salad consistency. Season with Garlic Powder & Cajun Spice. How much is up to your taste buds! You will then heat in the oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes covered until hot, the last 5 or 10 minutes uncover to give a crispy top.

Scribe: Thad Doye
October 4, 2007

Tyson Foods Highlights:

Tyson is the number one protein provider in the United States. The plant that we toured in Idabel is a small bird plant. Chickens are harvested in the four pound range. The operation provides chicken to restaurant and small fryer operations (convenience stores) and all of the birds are sized for weight. The plant harvests 1.3 million birds weekly, 150,000 pounds per shift, and 140 birds per minute. Tyson operates under a negative air flow system. Air moves from the finish are back to the harvest area (opposite of the birds). The birds are then cooled to forty degrees as quickly as possible to avoid contamination. The facility works two kill shifts and one cleaning shift every day. The plant was a nice clean facility for the industry and provided good employment for the local economy.

Huber Engineered Wood:

Huber plant is a pulp wood mill. The wood comes from the first thinning of trees at around twelve years of growth. Wood is purchased at thirty five to forty dollars per ton. Trucks carry about thirty tons, and the plant receives one hundred trucks a day. Huber plant is an OSB or oriented strand board plant. The plant uses pieces of ground wood that are larger than most particle board for improved quality. This plant has been operating twenty four-seven but has cut back production to five days a week.

Process to make OSB board is:

  • Wood is unloaded from truck by crane

  • crane to debarker

  • to strander (bins are for emergencies)

  • to driers

  • to shakers

  • to blenders were resin and wax are added

  • to press

  • to sander

The plant has continuous length of wood product capabilities depending on orders. Huber is working hard to keep making good quality products and is engineering products to keep them ahead of others in the industry. Always purchase products with the blue edges.

Scribe: Bill Farris
October 4, 2007

Our afternoon began at the Weyerhaeuser facility with a deli-style lunch and visitor orientation (safety briefing) provided by Weyerhaeuser staff. Next, we were presented with an overview of Weyerhaeuser by Jim Tucker. Jim told us Weyerhaeuser has facilities in seventeen countries, is involved in timber for building products, paper and cellulose fibers for packaging, real estate and transportation. Jim described the forest cycle from harvest through production practices until the next harvest. He told us the main focus of Weyerhaeuser is environmental issues including sustainability, reducing pollution, conservation, protecting wildlife and identifying and protecting unique areas. Weyerhaeuser believes forestry is the answer to environmental problems. At 1.15pm we headed out to the forest to see timber harvesting procedures. We were treated to an up-close view of harvesting equipment in operation. Shawn Gibson, owner of the harvesting equipment, gave details to the operations in progress including the harvest of standing timber, the de-limbing process and sizing and stacking of logs.

At our second stop we received a quick safety update where we were asked to watch out for snakes, fire ants, poison ivy and equipment. Fred Fallis gave us a description of site preparations needed before seedling planting can be carried out. These steps included shearing and plowing with Dozers to clear stumps and roots and discing a ridge row or bed for planting the seedlings in. Kenny Dixon, of Kenny’s Dozer Service, and then demonstrated the shearing process using two D-6 Caterpillar dozers.

At our third stop we saw pine seedlings planted into a prepared bed. Mr. Fallis said bare root seedlings are planted in January and February and rooted seedlings are replanted in the fall to fill in where the bare root liners haven’t survived. Next, John Pietzyk pointed out a 16 year old stand of timber that had been thinned from 600 trees per acre to 150 trees per acre. He also described pruning, thinning and fertilization procedures. The group then returned briefly to the hotel before heading out to Beavers Bend State Park where we were treated to a wonderful fried catfish dinner, again courtesy of Weyerhaeuser. After dinner James Carper, who also did an excellent job of cooking catfish, talked briefly about roads and road maintenance in the Weyerhaeuser timberland. He says Weyerhaeuser spends about $1.3m per year maintaining 2500-3000 miles of roads in McCurtain County. James said he is also responsible for building roads to many of the 333 tracts that are harvested each year. He told us that improvements in technology and equipment have reduced the number of accidents and has reduced the need for manual labor, which is good since few young people are applying for jobs in the timber industry these days.

After a short discussion of class business we returned to the hotel for some R&R.

Scribe: Joe Locke
October 5, 2007

The day began early with a 6:30 am departure from the Quality inn in Idabel Ok. From here we traveled to Liberty Ok, where we were met by Kevin Dale the USDA/FSA county director. Mr. Dale then explained to the group that we would be touring a Turf farm, Alan Richey’s farms as well as a farming operation that has been turned into a wildlife refuge/ hunting operation. After introductions we traveled south to Mr. Gary Weger’s farm about 120 miles west of Idabel. Mr. Weger’s farm is a turf farm that used to be a peanut farm. The first pallets of sod were harvested in October of 2000 and they sold 3 loads. Most of the grass that is grown on the Weger operation is sold in the Dallas area, and all is sold south of the county. Because of the presences of Fire Ants they sell only to area’s that are inhabited by or have been inhabited by Fire Ants. All counties in Oklahoma that are north have not been. The entire sales marketing etc. is done on site by the Wegers. The operation sales approximately 8 loads a day. We were told that the number one issue facing this industry today is labor, and due to the things involved with this it may become more economical to do it all mechanically. Mr. Weger was going pick up a new piece of equipment that would do just that the next day in Tulsa.

From here we traveled to Yuba, Ok to Alan Ritchey farms. Mr. Jeff Tietz (Class XI) was our host for this tour and is responsible for the farming operations at Alan Ritchey farms. They farm around 11,000 acres of corn, sorghum, wheat, and pecan’s. The primary focus of our visit was the pecan orchard that had recently been planted. The trees are watered though a surface irrigation system that pulls water from the nearby red river. The orchard should be producing enough pecans in 5-7 years to have a reasonable harvest. While listening to Mr. Tietz we would here a loud boom about every 5 minutes, Mr. Tietz told the group that it was a cannon made to ward off deer and ferial hogs.

From Yuba we traveled to Yarnaby to view the Lake Rosetta Wild Life Refuge. The Refuge is owned by local businessman Mike Dyson who owns SYNERGYN a racing lubricant manufacturer. The refuge started with the help of NRCS and the U.S Fish and wildlife service. Once a 150 tract of farm land it now boast a wet land area, native grasses as well as a buffer zone of five year old pine trees around the perimeter of the property. The refuge also has a new hunting lodge as well as a dock area around the southern end of the wetlands. Lunch was served at the hunting lodge, and was catered by the Angus pit stop in Calera. It was a great meal and a special thanks to Grote for preparing it as well as Alan Ritchey farms for sponsoring the meal and Mr. Dyson for hosting the class.