July 15, 2024

From the Fields: Wheat crop rapidly maturing

Q&A: Clay Geyer

The Geyer family bales alfalfa on their farm in northern Indiana.

BREMEN, Ind. — Clay Geyer, former From the Fields columnist, is back this year to share updates from his farm in northern Indiana.

Geyer grows corn, soybeans and soft red winter wheat, in addition to raising Angus, Holstein and Cornish Cross broilers.

When he’s not farming, you can find him leading the Indiana Corn Husking Association, or playing with his nephew, Grant.

Geyer shared his story with AgriNews.

Q: Tell us about your family farm.

A: I am a fifth-generation farmer, raised on a 200-acre dairy farm northwest of Bremen, Indiana, where I reside today. Our farm is divided by the St. Joseph and Marshall County Line Road, which is located a short distance from the intersections of U.S. 6 and U.S. 31.

After our farm exited the dairy business with our herd of Jersey cows nearly six years ago, we began raising Angus and Holstein bottle calves and finishing them out. We also feed 100 Cornish Cross broilers which keeps the old round rafter chicken house chirping.

Livestock is only a small portion of what I raise on the family farm. I also produce corn, soybeans and soft red winter wheat in a continuous rotation each year, with one exception being the well-established fields of orchardgrass and alfalfa, which is then harvested in small squares or rounds bales in a minimum of four cuttings throughout the summer months and fed to our cattle, with the excess being sold to other producers.

Along with my parents, Craig and Rebecca, I have one brother, Michael, who also helps on the farm and has his own construction business, too. My inquisitive and rambunctious 6-year-old nephew, Grant, is another key puzzle piece to the future of our family farm and I’m hopeful he will follow in our footsteps someday and continue the family farm legacy.

Q: What does a day in the life on the farm look like this time of the year?

A: Due to the lack of rain, the weeds continue to grow even when the row crops are stressed from the extreme temps. The insect pressure seems to be a constant battle from leafhoppers in the alfalfa to cutworms feeding on the young, tender corn plant.

The wheat crop is rapidly maturing due to lack of moisture, so we will be stepping up our efforts to get the combine ready to cut wheat within the next couple weeks.

Despite the increased humidity and temperatures, I’m about half done with my second cutting of alfalfa, which will be round baled and wrapped in a tube of plastic to preserve the quality of hay.

Q: What is next on your to-do list?

A: Wheat harvest, finish second cutting hay, fertilize hay fields — but only if it rains. Continue scouting fields for weeds and insect pressure and replace pump on field sprayer. Help my brother at jobsites once I get caught up on my to-do list at the farm.

Q: Besides the farm, what other activities are you up to this summer?

A: Once a year I usually make my way up to Minong, Wisconsin, for a week of fishing and relaxation with my Pioneer seed dealer. I also attend several historical power shows to promote the Indiana Corn Husking Association, too. And if there is a dull moment, my nephew is quick to help fill the void with things he wants to do.

Q: How is Corn Husking Association work going?

A: What started out as a fun fall activity and an opportunity to participate and try something new has turned into a membership of 20-plus years with the Indiana Corn Husking Association and has turned into a full-time job all year long. I have continued to serve as Indiana’s president for many years and received the title of vice president of the National Corn Husking Association as of last fall.

Last year, we moved the state corn husking contest to Brent and Ashley Reed’s farm in Nappanee. This will be the site of this year’s contest, as well. We are already planning for the national contest of 2025, which will be held in Nappanee again, too.

I enjoy volunteering with several community organizations like St. Joseph County Ag Days and my involvement as an active member of St. Joseph County Farm Bureau and various FFA chapters throughout the area.

Q: What do you like about farming?

A: I have enjoyed the last 40-plus years working side by side with my grandfather and father to gain the experience needed to farm on my own. It’s an incredible feeling to watch a seedling grow and mature throughout a growing season with the rewards we receive at the time of harvest.

Being involved in an agriculture has opened so many doors, and I have enjoyed my time as a agriculture journalist both in the newspaper and on television. I believe it’s important to tell our story and share our life in agriculture with the non-farming public.

Q: What do you think makes Indiana’s ag community special?

A: When we look beyond the common commodities of corn, soybeans and wheat in northern Indiana, we often forget about sweet corn, mint, lettuce, sunflowers, tomatoes, green beans, pickles, blueberries and potatoes, just to name a few. Farmers markets are popping up all over, as well.

Q: Anything else about your farm that you’d like me to mention?

A: “From the Fields” to “Walking in the Furrow,” I have created a passion of cultivated journalism with the help of the Indiana AgriNews, which dates back to 2015. It’s great to be back each month to share my life on the farm with readers all across the state of Indiana as I did many years ago.

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor