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Class XIV Curriculum

"Positive Futures for Rural America and a Look at Southwest Oklahoma Agriculture"

 Seminar II

Wind Energy Power Point

Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Scribe: Brent Thompson

Seminar 2 for Class 14 of OALP began early on Wednesday morning, October 1, 2008. Two vans departed Stillwater at 7:15 in route to Oklahoma City to pick up additional class members while 3 other vehicles full of car pooled members drove from other areas of the state. We all arrived safely at the Altus Microtel at 11:15 and made our way to the Oklahoma Research Test Station, South of Altus. We were greeted there by Dr. J.C. Banks, SW Oklahoma Cotton Extension Specialist. Dr. Banks described to our class that his job encompasses all areas of cotton production from planting to harvest aids. He went on to state that he primarily works with extension but spends about 25% of his time in research. The question was posed as to where the research ideas came from. He said that different companies would come providing funds to aid in the research of different products. Once the research was completed, they would then push the results out through extension.

Dr. Banks explained to us that Oklahoma grows approximately 200,000 acres of cotton each year with the majority of these acres located in southwestern Oklahoma. He said that the cotton was very tolerant of the sometimes harsh SW Oklahoma climate.

Our next speaker was Tom Buchanan who is with the Lugert-Altus Irrigation District. Mr. Buchanan gave a very detailed picture of the importance of Oklahoma’s only irrigation district. In 1938, congress passed legislation for the Lugert-Altus project which was a part of the Rivers and Harbors Act. The irrigation district was created in 1940 by land owners and water users’ who pledged $3.8 million of the $12.8 million price tag of the project. The water users’ loan was paid in full in 1990. Through the Lugert-Altus project, approximately 46,000-50,000 acres of land are irrigated each year within the district which has a 270-mile long system of canals and laterals.

After a great lunch provided by Ag Preference of Altus, Mr. Buchanan led us to the farm of Matt (Class IX) and Kellie Muller. Matt and Kellie, along with their 4 children and 2 ½ hired hands farm 2,000 acres of cotton, peanuts, wheat, grain sorghum and some Bermuda hay. Their business is truly a family farming operation. He painted a great picture for our class as to the struggles facing farmers in southwest Oklahoma. He mentioned how cotton was a very labor intensive crop to grow and due to the effects of HB 1804, (Oklahoma’s immigration bill) labor was one of their biggest challenges. He was asked about the economics of cotton which he broke down line-by-line from seed costs to harvesting, equating to approximately $480/acre. He said that his break even was around 1,200 lbs of cotton per acre which will go up in 2009 due to the higher costs in fertilizer and diesel. He praised the advancement of technology in cotton production through genetically engineered seed and the Boll Weevil eradication which has greatly improved their ability to produce a quality product.

We departed the Muller’s farm and were taken on a tour of the Cotton Growers Cooperative Cotton Gin. Mr. Buchanan continued to be our guide through the facility. He explained to us the gin was the largest in Oklahoma and processed between 75% and 80% of the total cotton production in the state. The gin is a cooperative owned by 36 individuals. It is a state of the art facility that would cost over $15 million to rebuild. At peak performance, the gin has the ability to process 65-68 bales per hour. Mr. Buchanan told our class that there are no private owned gins in the state of Oklahoma and that the gins are regulated by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

Cotton Growers COOP does three things:

  1. Separate the trash.
  2. Separate the seeds from the fibers.
  3. Press the fibers into bales weighing 480-500 lbs.

One of the very unique items about the cotton industry is the traceability of the product. Once the fibers are pressed, each bale is sampled. This sample is then divided into two pieces. One piece stays affixed to the bale and the other is sent to Abilene, TX to be graded. This bale is also coded with a bar code that stays with the bale until it ultimately ends up in the hands of the purchaser of the raw cotton.

Once leaving the gin, Mr. Buchanan took us across the road for an unscheduled tour of Keeff Felty’s (Class XIII) drip irrigation cotton field. Keeff is a 4th generation cotton farmer that has taken a 132 acres field and put in a new drip irrigation system that waters the crop below the surface. This form of irrigation was explained to us as the “Rolls Royce” of water delivery to the plants. The irrigation tape has drip emitters spaced evenly and is buried and plumbed into a control center located in a container trailer situated on the edge of the filed. The control center receives the water and filters it through three separate filtration systems to remove any debris before it is disbursed through the irrigation tape. Keeff praised the drip irrigation technology for many reasons: the almost nonexistence of water loss through evaporation, lower water requirements for the crop, and the ability to apply both liquid fertilizer and some insecticides through the drip irrigation. He stated to us that the approximate cost of installing the drip irrigation was $70,000 per quarter section of land and has an annual operating cost of about $8/acre on cotton ground for electricity to run the system.

Our final tour of the day brought us to the Cotton Compress and Storage Facility located in Altus. Jay Cowart, manager, was our tour guide of the facility. The Compress is owned by the Plains Cooperative Cotton Association (PCCA). PCCA owns a total of 6 facilities and leases 5 more similar to the one in Altus. The PCCA guarantees that the producers are going to get paid for the crop and that the buyers will receive the product. PCCA does not own the crop instead they are just a warehouse with ownership of the cotton bales remaining with the producer until it is sold. The source of revenue for PCCA comes from a receiving fee, loading fee and a storage fee of $.07/bale/day. The majority of the cotton that PCCA ships is exported primarily to China and Mexico while a portion of the bales remain domestically here in the United States.

After a full day of traveling all over the Altus area, we made our way further southwest to Rio Rojo Hunting Lodge in Creta, OK. Here we enjoyed a relaxed atmosphere of dining and entertainment provided by our hosts Mark (Class XII) and Rick Holder with Stockman’s Bank of Altus.


Thursday, October 2, 2008 A.M.
Scribe: Rose Bonjour

The second day of the second session for Class IVX started bright and early, departing from the Altus Microtel Hotel at 7:20 and heading to Roosevelt, Oklahoma. Chairperson Daniel Skipper kept us on task. We were in for an exciting tour of the southwestern diversity of agriculture. Along the way we saw several Rio Grande wild turkey flocks near the North Fork Red River, and learned important information such as the fact that solid orange cats are all male, and calico cats are all female.

Arriving at the Windmill Winery minutes before 8:00 a.m., classmate Mary Steichen was in her element. Owners Russell “Rusty” (Class VII) and Dawnita Allard greeted us as we arrived, as did a slightly brisk breeze. We observed the 12 acres of grapes planted to the west of the winery and gift shop. We learned from Rusty that it took six years for the grapes to reach their full potential. The tender bark of the young plants need protection, which must be protected during mechanical weeding, and the plants will get hardier as they grow. Although they “supplicate water” (irrigate), grapes actually love hot, dry, sunny weather. They are harvested between August 1st and the middle of September. The plants are winter hardy, but if they are too wet, the plants can freeze, rupturing the branches. The Allards start pruning the branches in the fall right after the first frost.

The Allards began growing grapes to supplement their wheat and alfalfa hay operation. Wine was actually an after thought. With Dawnita being a “Grapes of Wrath reverse migrant from Brea, California,” her family provided information and encouragement in the process. With an acre of grapes producing between 3 to 5 tons per acre, and a ton bringing approximately $1,000, grape growing was going to be a retirement hobby when Rusty retired as Chief Lending Officer/Agricultural Lender for AgPreference, a part of the Farm Credit System. Planting their first vines in 2000, they opened their winery boutique in 2004. Grapes are planted in 10’ rows with plants 6’ apart, and approximately 720 plants per acre. The clay-loam and sandy-loam mix soil is ideal for grapes. With approximately $250,000 invested, they hope for a $15,000 - $20,000 annual net return on their investment

Rusty demonstrated how to test and taste wine. We sampled a Riesling, Hinie wine Full Moon, and a red wine. He encouraged us to compare what we tasted and smelled, and what we didn’t taste as well. Red wine is served in a glass with a wider bowl, providing more surface area. The glass should be filled only half way, or to the widest part of the glass. White wines are served in taller glasses as they are not as complex in taste or aroma. You should look for the clarity in the wine. The Allards also enjoy “wine pairing” or matching, or accenting, wine with food.

Other wine facts:

  • 90% of the wineries in Oklahoma import grapes.

  • The French Vinifera grapes they raise are the same as those grown in Napa Valley.

  • The grapes are hand picked, and placed in plastic tubs in the fields.

  • It costs approximately $250 - $300 to harvest by hand and causes less bruising that mechanical harvesting.

  • Grapes are extremely sensitive to 2,4-D, which can have up to a 20 mile drift.

  • The grapes only grow on new wood.

  • Black rot is a fungal disease which causes the grapes to shrivel and drop. Fungicides are used to prevent this problem.

  • When the Allards started their winery, they were the 17th in the state. There are now approximately 150 in Oklahoma.

  • Champaign is created by the method of processing, not from a specific type of grape.

  • At the turn of the century (1900), there were more varieties of grapes in Oklahoma and Texas than anywhere else in the nation.

  • Southwestern Oklahoma’s climate is perfect for wine making: harsher climate = thicker skin and better wine.

  • Wine has a 3 – 5 year shelf life.

  • Oklahoma State Question 743 which will be on the November 4 ballot will allow winemakers to once again sell their products directly to liquor stores and restaurants, with restrictions.

  • More information on the Windmill winery can be found at

  • It was back in the vans for the half-hour trip to Mountain Park, Oklahoma. Following an important refreshment and rest break provided at the Phelan Ranch by OALP Alumni, Lynn Ann Dietrich (Class V) introduced John Phelan, owner of the Phelan Ranch and Mary Jahn (Class VI). John’s parents started the ranch in 1958, and John bought out his “career-minded” siblings, managing the ranch since 1973. Married in 1981, John and his wife, Tamara, have two sons, Clay and Grady, who also work in the family operation. There ranch consists mainly of a stocker operation, plus approximately 300 ewes, and a hunting lease operation. His goals including keeping his costs low, conserving the natural resources, and maintaining a high quality of life.

    The Phelan Ranch specifically does contract grazing, charging by the 100 weight per day with a different rate for the growing and dormant seasons. The charge is for the grass and care, with no guarantee on death loss. The cattle are put on in late fall and shipped in August. April 1st is when the growing season begins, and time controlled grazing is utilized. Twenty-five permanent paddocks, each approximately 75 – 80 acres, but varying based on terrain are used in rotation for the cattle and sheep. Approximately 600 head of cattle are kept together in one herd. There are 3½ miles of pipelines for water points. John recommends at least a 2” pipe. It’s the best money spent. “You need volume or they’ll tear things up.” Electric fencing is nothing; water is a limiting factor.

    After John shared with us his management plan and showed us two important tools of his management plan: a map of the ranch, and an extensive grazing flow-chart used in moving the livestock. The Phelan’s ranch 3,600 acres, owning 2,100, and leasing the rest. Approximately 700 acres of the area is lost to brush, rocks, etc. They strive for 10 – 12 acres per animal unit. During growing season, cattle are moved every 2 – 5 days, taking several factors into consideration. In the winter, they stay in a paddock longer and are supplemented with cotton seed cake. A low-stress handling method is used to move the cattle, with them quickly learning the process. Each paddock is allowed to rest a minimum of 30 days between use.

    Sheep are more confined and managed with guard dogs to prevent loss from coyotes. John’s philosophy on worming is that if a sheep has worms, it’s the sheep’s problem, not his!

    When the South Africans suggested he could double his stocking rate using rotational grazing, he thought it was not possible, but done correctly, it is true. We then piled in the back of a couple of pickups and headed out to see the ranch.

    Although the ranch currently has concrete water troughs, they will be moving to poly-tanks that can easily be moved and set up with a quick-connect. To keep the pipes from freezing in the winter, they let the tanks run over with a constant little flow of water. They have a 600 gallon storage tank for their well water supply. To help control foot rot, Fusogard vaccine or medicated mineral supplement is used.

    Eastern Red Cedar and Mesquite are also pests of the open range. A little of the rangeland is burned through a controlled method each year to manage cedars. The Snyder fire department is paid to help blade a break and monitor the burn. Remedy and Reclaim are mixed for an air kill of mesquite. It costs $30 an acre to spray, but hopefully that will only be an expense every 20 years.

    The rangeland is monitored twice a year for species, composition, bare ground, insects, etc. by EKG out of Bozeman, MT, and has been since 2001. There are transects and also picture points taken across the area. One leased land area when first acquired, was covered in cedars and had short grass. Through the Phelan Ranch management practices, that same area is now cedar free and covered in tall grass. The main grasses are the big four: big and little bluestem, Indian grass, and switchgrass.

    As we were finishing up at the Phelan Ranch, John showed us the versatile electric fencing he uses. With fiberglass posts, G-springs, and polywire, this system from New Zealand is easy to set up and easy to move. The wire stays hot, the posts give much more than t-posts, and there is a lot more flexibility in setting fence. One charger will take care of 6 – 7 miles of fence.

    Out of time, John shared briefly with us about his Dorpher sheep. This meat and hair breed of sheep has natural immunities to parasites and is ideal for the conditions of southwestern Oklahoma. He also visited briefly about his interests in the studies done on animal behavior.

    Well studied and a unique sense of ranch humor, it was a pleasure visiting with John Phelan at the Phelan Ranch. It was interesting listening to his philosophy on using less chemicals and how the rotational grazing benefits the land, plants, and livestock. He seems to have mastered working in balance with the environment.

    Lunch, sponsored by OALP Alumni, was held at the quaint Saddle Mountain Store. The store was built in 1907 and currently is a meeting hall museum with many pictures of the area throughout the years. Lunch was sub sandwiches, chips, cookie bars, and outstanding coconut-raspberry bars. Dustin Tackett (Class XII) joined the group for lunch.

    Following lunch, Keith Brownback, Agricultural Business Management Coordinator from Caddo Kiowa Technology Center, told the group of the Crop Applicators program offered through the Technology Center. The program is approximately 9 months long and costs $1,050. Through the program, students earn their applicator’s licenses; learn about agronomy, customer service, and more. The target audience is young adults and those working cooperatives. The program has only been in existence for two years. In addition to teaching the class and providing the hands-on training, the first year Keith worked on developing the curriculum with industry input. The second year he worked on putting the curriculum online for students across the state.

    As the morning’s session drew to a close, we once again loaded up vehicles to head to the next location on our tour.


    Thursday, October 2, 2008 P.M.
    Scribe: David McMullen

    After lunch Class 14 loaded up and headed to the Blue Canyon Wind Power Farm south of Carnegie. Upon arrival we were met by Jody Hardesty, who is the Administrative Office Manager for Horizon Wind Energy. We learned that the main office is in Houston, but are owned by a Portuguese Company. Accompanying Jody was Lynn Ann Dietrich who is one of the twelve landowners that the project is located on. As we traveled up the smooth gravel road that would take us right up to the wind turbines it was very apparent why this sight was chosen. With the change in elevation the wind currents picked up and we were told about the study done on the wind speeds and the messonnet stations that were put into place to collect all the data. Blue Canyon was constructed in two different phases; first forty-five 1.65 mega watt generators were built and put into operation. The second phase there was eighty-four 1.8 mega watt generators built and put into operation. Making a grand total of one hundred and twenty nine wind turbines, and when operating at full output can generate enough electricity to supply eighty-thousand homes. The turbines can operate in only 6 MPH wind speed and the highest speed is 32 MPH. Each blade is one hundred and twenty nine feet long, and the towers themselves are two hundred and fifty feet tall. At the base of each tower there was a hole blasted twenty five foot deep and filled with reinforcement rod and 35 to 40 trucks of concrete. The cost of these turbines was approximately one million dollars per mega watt to construct and the pay out on them is ten to twelve years to recover the investment. Blue Canyon has a maintenance contract with the manufacture of the turbines, which requires the manufacture to service and inspect each turbine semi-annually. Each turbine is expected to have a 20 to 25 year life span according to Jody, but that could be longer or shorter. Data supporting that statement has still not been verified yet. Payment made to the landowners is based on the production of the wind farm itself, and they are all pooled together. Example: If each turbine generates enough electricity that the landowner gets a thousand dollars per turbine and if you have five turbines on your property then that landowner gets five thousand dollars for the quarter. All transmission lines from each turbine are run underground to a substation, and from the substation there is a 26 mile transmission line that runs towards Lawton. All the electricity generated at Blue Canyon is sold to PSO and Western Farmers. Jody handed out 2008 Farmers Almanac’s to each one of us and Mr. Switzer got us on our way to our next destination.

    Alan Mindeman-No-Till Farming
    Thanks to Lynn Ann who was our guide for the afternoon, she led us to the wind farm and took the lead to Alan Mindeman’s farm Northeast of Apache. Upon arrival at Alan’s we learned that he is a fourth generation farmer and that he came back to the farm in 1995. He stated that he was going to either make the no-till farming work or if it didn’t that he would have found something else to do. Getting started Alan learned on his own and with the help of some no-till farmers around Enid. He said that he was told over and over by everyone that no-till farming in SW Oklahoma would not work. Today Alan is farming around 4,000 acres, and only has one full time employee. Alan does not own or run any cattle and leases all of his grass to his brother. He is fully self contained and can store and dry grains for marketing purposes. He does double crop and his rotation is based on the year we are having precipitation wise and the opportunities that are available for any specific grain crop. Alan stated that you have to be able to change and adapt to whatever works, and that to be successful you need to recognize opportunities and take advantage of them. Again Mr. Switzer kept us on time and we loaded up and followed Lynn Ann to our next destination.

    Horn Canna Farm-Dustin and Nikki Snow
    As we approached our next destination the landscape almost appeared as a Rembrandt masterpiece with all of the beautiful colors dancing and waving in the breeze. There we were greeted by Dustin and Nikki Snow owners of Horn Canna Farms. Dustin gave us a brief history of the farm and how it got started, his Great Grandfather was a vegetable grower and peddler and he started taking some bulbs with him on his route each week. He said it wasn’t long that he was selling more bulbs than vegetables, so he started raising more bulbs. Today Horn Canna Farms is 150 acres in size and will harvest between four to five million (yes million) bulbs each year with a value of .17 cents to $5.00 per bulb depending on the grade of the bulb. Dustin said that they work with a bulb distributor that markets the bulbs to retail stores, but they do have some internet sales ( Right before harvest they will take an insulage cutter and shred the top part of the plant, and then they use a hydraulic driven saw that will cut the stalk almost to ground level. A potato digger will dig the bulbs and they will be put into a trailer that has a chain driven floor in it. The trailer is then backed up to a chain belt and the bulbs are unloaded and washed by a recycling water system that Dustin and his father built that will pump up to 4,000 gallons a minute of water to wash the bulbs. The bulbs move on inside to a series of belts and they are individually trimmed and graded by hand. Dustin stated that it takes approximately 30 people for harvest each year. Harvest usually starts in Oct. and last until Nov. and the first shipments of bulbs will go out in Nov. and will end in May. Planting of the next crop will also be in May and Dustin raises and keeps all of his own seed stock. During the summer Dustin said that they usually put one inch of water on in normal conditions and more when it gets hotter. Horn Canna Farms has the first irrigation well that was ever drilled in Caddo County. They have 26 different varieties and the presidential is the most popular. In his usual fashion Mr. Switzer informed us it was time to move on and we loaded up and headed to Weatherford were we stopped at the Weatherford Wind Energy Center. There on display was one of the blades off of the wind generators that we had seen earlier in the evening. We went and checked in at our Motel and got ready for dinner.

    Dinner and Museum Tour-Stafford Air and Space
    Arriving at the museum we were greeted by a host of OALP Alums and other people. Mr. Switzer started the evening by introducing Bill Shanlen with the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development. Mr. Shanlen gave us an overview of the areas development over the past few years and what is on the horizon for the area also. Then Mr. Dean Smith (Class III) and an area vegetable grower as well as our location sponsor for the night addressed us for a brief few moments. He had us do a little exercise and everyone had to introduce the person that was to their right. After introductions we had our meal that was catered by Alfredo’s Mexican Restaurant and sponsored by Jeff (Class IX) and Karen Krehbiel (Class X) both alums of previous classes. After the meal we were able to tour the museum and visit with alums. What a day, we had come along way and seen a lot of different things.


    Friday, October 3, 2008
    Scribe: Scott Sproul

    On Friday we headed to Hydro, OK for an eventful day of learning about the farming practices of the area. We gathered in Hydro at the county fairgrounds and Allen Entz gave us a little history of the area and told us about the bridge that had been moved in from out of town to the grounds area. Local farmer and OALP Alumnus, Chris Slagell brought a school bus and was our driver for the days activities. Dale Beerwinkle talked to us as we were on our way to our first stop informing us of how there are 22 OALP Alumni in the Hydro area. Mr. Beerwinkle also explained the diverse farming operations in the area and gave us an overview of the vegetable production around Hydro.

    Our first stop was at David Bailey Fertilizer, Inc. located just north of town. Mr. Bailey, along with the help of his wife Mary and two sons, Josh and Luke, own and operate the farm that includes a custom application business and no-till farming practices. David explained how found a niche market in the custom application business 10-15 years ago by applying liquid fertilizer on area farms. He has modified his own fertilizer rigs and works within a 50 mile radius from home. David and his son do all of the application and cover around 50,000 acres annually. They have semi trucks to haul the rigs and fertilizer to the job sites. Along with the custom application business, David custom no-till plants nearly 10,000 acres for other area producers. The Bailey family farms eight irrigated circles of no-till crops that include a rotation of wheat, beans, and milo. The only conventional farming practices done on the Bailey farm are the vegetable crops. A small sod farm is also located at the Bailey farm headquarters and is managed by Mary Bailey.

    We next visited with Stan Raetz of Western Oklahoma Sod. Western Oklahoma Sod is owned by Stan and Lori Raetz and located 12 miles east of Hydro. Raetz was operating a machine that cuts and rolls the sod into a 1200 pound roll. This machine was totally automated and was one of five machines in the U.S. The machine helps to cut down on labor since it can be operated by only one individual. The sod farming operation of Stan Raetz was first started as a supplemental income adventure for his farming operation but has grown into a full time operation. The sod that Raetz harvests from his 300 acre sod farm and other farms is used mainly for highways and roads across Oklahoma. Some sod is also used in the housing industry but Raetz explained how that market has slowed down.

    Next we were off to Triple S Farms which is owned and operated by Virgil (Class IV), Maribeth (Class V), Dennis (Class VI), and Chris Slagell (Class XI). This diversified operation includes 3,000 acres of farm ground in which they produce wheat, potatoes, watermelons, spring and fall greens, spinach and peanuts. We started at the Slagell’s Hafer place where Virgil showed us some of their irrigation systems. The first was a center pivot that had drops that rotated and put out four streams of water to increase efficiency of watering. Virgil told us how he prefers to have a flow of ten gallons per minute per acre through his irrigation systems to be able to keep enough water on the crops to maximize production. The next system we looked at was a linear system and was the only one of its kind at Triple S Farms. The linear system has a generator mounted on it to produce its own electricity for operation, and has a drop and wobbler watering system that simulates rain. A wheel on the end of the system follows a ditch to ensure that it runs in a straight line. It pulls a hose along that supply the water but has to be reconnected every 600 feet to a new water outlet.

    Our group was then on our way to the Slagell Watermelon shed, and along the way Mr. Dean Smith explained to us how land values had increased in the area recently. Much of this is due, as explained by Smith, to higher commodity prices. Mr. Smith also gave us some history of irrigating in the Caddo County area. He said there are 50,000 acres of irrigated land in Caddo County and the water is supplied from the Rush Spring Aquifer. Most wells are around 300 feet deep and produce anywhere from 300 to 1000 gallons of water per minute.

    As we arrived at the Triple S Farm headquarters we were treated to donuts, coffee, and soda drinks. While we consumed our refreshments, Dennis Slagell talked to us about their operation explaining how their family settled in the area in the early 1900’s. Dennis along with Virgil and Stephen (who left the operation in 1990 and was the third S in Triple S) started doing custom work in the 1970’s to supplement their farming income. Dennis also explained how they use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, produced by Dale Beerwinkle, to keep track of operations conducted at each farm. Each time an operation, such as fertilizing, spraying, or watering, is conducted, the individual calls into a phone recorder of the procedure and then a secretary records the procedure onto the spreadsheet. The Slagell’s also told us about Virgil being a past member of the U.S. Potato Promotion Board and how Chris is currently serving on the board.

    We then moved on out to the watermelon shed where workers were boxing watermelons for shipment. The melons are packed either four, five, or six melons per box. The melons are unloaded onto a conveyer and individually weighed three times and sorted according to size. They are sold to a broker and sent to states such as New York, Minnesota, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and Massachusetts. The fields are rotated every year from watermelon production. The watermelons are only planted on a field once out of four years. Watermelon production is highly labor intensive and local workers are used as much as possible.

    Next we visited with another former OALP class member Merlin Schantz (Class VIII). Merlin is a fourth generation farmer, and his great-grandfather came to the United States from Germany in the 1880’s. He settled in Oklahoma in 1908 and stared farming small grains and had livestock. Now the Schantz family operates on 1000 acres and has five center pivot irrigations. The first farm we visited had milo, beans, and two acres of cilantro that is being grown in conjunction with Oklahoma State University as a test plot. Merlin has also grown chili peppers, spinach, greens, turnips, carrots, and beats. He currently grows cotton and peanuts too. Dr. Lynn Brandenberger of Oklahoma State explained the cilantro test plot to the class. They are working to increase shelf life of cilantro by extracting the oil from the plant after it is harvested. The cilantro is grown as a fresh crop and harvested by machine instead of hand harvest. Dr. Brandenberger explained that there are not many herbicides that can be used on cilantro so a test is being conducted on the Schantz farm by applying herbicide at for different rates to see what will work best and see if any damage is done to the plant.

    Our next stop was to another Schantz farm that included peanuts, spinach, and cotton. Jordan Gunter a peanut buyer from Binger was present also. Merlin’s son gave us a demonstration on how peanuts are harvested with a digger that digs up the plants and a peanut combine that separates the peanuts from the vines. Mr. Schantz explained to us how the vines are then baled up for hay after the peanuts are harvested from them.

    Our final stop for the day was at the Schantz family headquarters where they are celebrating the farm being an Oklahoma Centennial Farm. We were served a wonderful lunch there along with other area OALP Alumni. After we finished eating, Mr. Dean Smith told us about is pepper farm. The peppers are produced and sold on the amount of heat that the peppers contain. Mr. Jeff Krehbiel then talked to us about his sunflower production and also how he has a 560 tree orchard along with selling certified seed wheat. Jeff is also the chairman of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission.

    We were then taken back to the county fairgrounds by Chris Slagell and had a short meeting discussing our three day adventure of southwest Oklahoma before heading back home.

    OALP Alums Don Troyer (Class XI), Ed Crall (Class VIII) and Steven Clay (Class XII) accompanied the class for all of today’s tours and lunch.