By Audrey Schmitz
Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper, Brad Hobelmann from Belleville, Kansas has been involved in wheat harvest. In the late 60’s and early 70’s, Hobelmann Farms operated a custom harvest crew that ran a route from Oklahoma to Kansas. The crew consisted of his Grandfather Harold, his sons Delmar, Dean, and Wayne and their families.
“I was always hanging around my dad Delmar and my uncles. Any time I had th
e chance to ride in the tractor, combine, or anything I was there,” said Hobelmann.
The Hobelmann Farms harvest crew ran three John Deere 95 combines and used three grain trucks. Hobelmann can be seen as the little boy in red in the picture on the right. Their custom harvest route ended in 1975 when Hobelmann’s father and uncles decided they needed to stay home more for their families.
Hobelmann still has fond memories of harvesting in different fields for different farmers. Even now, 40 years later, he still drives through the countryside and remembers working for farmers that are no longer there.
From the Ground Up
Hobelmann is a fourth generation farmer and has been farming full time since he was 17 years old. He concentrates on crops and does a little custom work for farmers in his area. About 25 percent of his planted crops are wheat and the rest are split evenly between soybeans and corn. Year round Hobelmann hires a full time man and a few other men help out during both the summer and fall harv
On the communications front, Hobelmann’s wife, Paula, is a full-time registered nurse who also takes care of all the farm record keeping, books, and bills. His three daughters, Laken, Saren, and Bryn help out wherever needed in the summertime by moving headers and equipment around, as well as helping with the irrigation system.
Cutting A Deal
His attention to detail and need to provide his own seed stock are why Hobelmann began growing and producing certified wheat seed. He started out using certified seed in the early 90’s when he rented a farm from a family where the owner had one odd stipulation. The farmer insisted Hobelmann always plant certified seed on his property.
“He was a believer in certified seed. He had seen it firsthand and knew the success with it,” explained Hobelmann. “He rented me his land with the stipulation that I would agree to grow certified seed. So I did, and with that I started planting certified seed.”
At the time, Hobelman bought certified seed from other growers. But with some encouragement from one of his uncles that grew certified seed in Nebraska, he became a certified seed grower as well. Today Hobelmann is a certified seed dealer for the wheat variety Everest.
“Everest was just a natural progression. So when it became available I started growing it,” said Hobelmann. “For our farm operation up here it is a pretty good all-around wheat. It may not be the top end all the time, but it is consistent.”
Since then, Hobelmann has stayed with K-State wheat varieties saying that he believes in their breeding program because of its success in his area.
The Last Straw
On the tail end of harvest Hobelmann says this year’s wheat is quite a bit better than last year and up 30 to 50 percent. His yields have been running in the mid 20’s to low 50’s with test weights averaging 58 to 60 pounds per bushel.
The most frustrating issue for Hobelmann up in north central Kansas has been dealing with moisture levels and getting the wheat to ripen.
“The cooler weather combined with some winter kill set the wheat back so we had a lot of late green heads,” said Hobelmann.
There is no questioning Hobelmann’s favorite part of farming. It is definitely harvest time.
Hobelmann said, “When I see the crop, the equipment, the activity of gathering it in, the decisions coming together, and the fast pace, it is all a very enjoyable time for me and I just love it.”