This year’s Young Conservation Farmer Award winner for the Marion County Natural Resources and Conservation Services District seems to be able to stand the world on its head.
Matthew Kirkpatrick is beginning his farming career from a different perspective than many of his predecessors.
He is 23, and is months away from finishing his degree in production agronomy at Kansas State University.
Yet, he is still working for Monsanto in Manhattan during the school year, planning to work for Pioneer Seeds at Garden City during the summer before returning home to Marion County to farm with his father, Duane, permanently—if he carries through on plans to work in agri-business for only three years.
Add to this the fact that he has added an unusual crop for this area—flax—for oil-seed production on one-third of the 80 acres he purchased in 2009 next to an 80 his father bought on Quail Creek Road north of U.S. Highway 50.
The rest of the 80 acres, he said, will be in wheat.
“I won’t have any fall crops on it. The flax is a winter broadleaf plant 3 or 4 feet tall, and gets pretty yellow blooms on it,” he said. “It’s eye-catching. There’s a lot of it grown in Oklahoma and Texas, but it’s not well-known here yet.”
Kirkpatrick said the flax will be swathed into windrows for drying in June or early July, because it’s usually too moist to combine free-standing.
Flax typically yields 30 to 45 bushels an acre, he said, and now is selling for $12.30 a bushel at the terminal in Oklahoma City.
Kirkpatrick said he has the option of hauling the flax to Anthony, but he hopes more producers will join him in growing it here for development of a closer sales location.
He plans for the canola to be part of a three-year rotation with wheat grown two of the years on the same ground.
When Kirkpatrick purchased his land, according to NRCS, the previous owner had completed 1.7 acres of waterways and 5,500 feet of terraces. Kirkpatrick completed the work in 2011 with installation of 1,869 more feet of terraces.
Kirkpatrick also participates in an Angus and Angus-crossbreed cow-calf operation back-grounding the calves to 800 to 900 pounds.