He?ll modestly say he just provided a couple of wheat test plots. But when you talk to Rickey Roberts, county extension agent, he?ll tell you the contributions Suderman made were invaluable?among the best information that can be offered to Marion County farmers.
Roberts will also tell you that Suderman is a modest man. But he has always been willing to do everything Roberts has asked even if it interfered with his farm production.
Local persons often under-rate the benefit they are making compared to the scientists and researchers at the state level, Roberts said.
Suderman also had one other asset, son Kevin, who, as an agronomist for Cooperative Grain & Supply, was able to help measure the plots.
The appreciation award is presented annually to the person who has made the most valuable contribution to extension work. Roberts said Suderman has been providing test plots on roadside location fields where they are highly visible to the public for four years.
Roberts said farmers can?t get information like the test plots provide anywhere else. For one thing, he said, there isn?t much money in wheat seed compared to other crops, so seed companies are unwilling to put the money into plots that they would for a crop such as corn.
It takes public institutions like Kansas State University and its Extension Service, and the cooperation from people like Don Suderman, to make wheat test plots happen.
Suderman said there hasn?t been much from the test plots in the past few years, but Roberts said even that is ?invaluable.?
?The results aren?t always measured in yields and income,? Roberts said. ?It?s in the nature of plant work and farm work that you don?t always get what you?re after.
?The guys can see here in real-life, real-time Marion County conditions how the different wheat varieties performed side by side reacting to the drought, disease, pestilence, freezes or other things we had right here.
?The yields might not have been real great, but there have been lessons to be learned looking at them.
?This has been true of the other things Don has done with me. He?s always been good, and never turned me down in the six years I?ve been here. He?s taken time for our programs out his own time and farm production when some of the bigger guys don?t have time for it.
?We?ve had the situation where it?s been raining keeping us out of the fields from planting for two weeks. I happened to be away the week it dried up enough to plant. Don put the wheat plots in without me. That?s the kind of guy he is?to be good and take the time to do it even when his extension agent?s not good.
?He always tells me if we?re going to do this, let?s just take the time, and do it right.
?Two or three years ago, he let me do a no-till field day on his ground. We dug pits out in his field to show soil profiles, and what no-till could do to build soil. Then he let us demonstrate equipment on another field.
?Don used to farm with his brother, Lyle, and Lyle?s house has been the farm headquarters. He let me do a cookout there for the guys. Every time I call him for something, his answer is yes.?
Don said Kevin?s ?prodding and help? has a lot to do with putting out test plots. ?Kevin?s on the extension council and at the co-op.?
The plots, on 140th between Limestone and Mustang, can take more time out of farming, he added. For instance, two or three hours may be spent drilling the wheat to plant when normally the plot areas would have been done in 10 to 15 minutes as part of a more generalized sweep of the field.
Each plot also has to be individually harvested with a gravity wagon for weight with Kevin meticulously taking quality and moisture tests. He does sell the wheat at the elevator with the rest of his crop.
?Kevin loves to do it.?
Don has been farming since the 1973-74 season. He also plants milo, corn and soybeans to spread risk especially on when moisture will be received.
Kevin said CG&S has helped provide for the test plots, and in former years, Terry Vinduska, Pioneer Seeds sales, has helped as well.