Travel to La Porte County and go to La Crosse. Go a few miles east and a couple miles north. If they are through working with the railroad track, you can find Gene Schmidt's place in a couple of miles. If not, you'll have to zig-zag around a mile on county roads. You'll see irrigation rigs running. Gene farms on some of the toughest land there is to farm, sand with percolation problems underneath. It needs irrigation, but it wet years water can accumulate in the subsoil. That's why both irrigation and surface drainage are important tools in his area.
Schmidt utilizes his irrigated ground to raise seed corn for Monsanto, planting inbreds that wind up as hybrids in Dekalb seed bags for 2013. He also sometimes grows seed beans for LG Seeds.
"We haven't don't that as much lately because we're doing more intercropping," he says. Inter what?
Planting soybeans into wheat before harvest, usually around the end of May, is how a few people in northern Indiana have tried to make double-cropping with wheat after soybeans work. If they wait until the wheat crop is off, it's usually too late, at least in most years, to plant soybeans and expect them to mature before frost. But by planting wheat in 15-inch rows and then interseeding soybeans before the wheat is harvested, Schmidt has turned interseeding into a system that works well in his operation and helps him diversify his crop mix. He's also growing tomatoes for the second time this year, working through another grower who has a contract with Red Gold.
The other secret to making his operation work is his wife, Diane. This amazing lady is a caregiver for her disabled brother three or more days a week, but also helps Gene in the field. When Schmidt is gone on conservation business, Diane manages the farm and keeps the home fires burning. Congratulations to Gene Schmidt and family for being named as a Master Farmer.