This is part of the series: 10 Questions Answered By A Farmer
1. Who are you and how long have you been farming?
Roger Neitsch. I have been farming on my own for about 38 years. I farmed with my family for about 15 years before that. Really, all my life.
2. Where do you farm?
Gaines County, Texas, about 80 miles south of Lubbock.
3. What are you growing this year?
Elbon Rye and Pecans.
4. What has the weather been like?
It’s been good. We had dry weather during the pecan harvest and have had some beneficial rainfall since then.
5. Any yield or price predictions for the year? If you have already harvested, do you care to share them?
We have young orchards at about 50 percent max production. That comes out to around the 1,500 pounds per acre range, and we will probably average $3.00 per pound on our pecan price.
6. What was the best year you have had farming, and why?
There were a few years in the early 90’s that we had both great crops and prices under the old peanut quota program. We did very well those years.
7. What was the worst year you have had farming, and why?
1985. We grew peanuts for a Southwest-Spanish pool at the time. Prices had been fantastic, but we were told to not plant peanuts that year due to a large surplus. Well, we planted peanuts anyway, and had the best peanut crop in our history. At the same time, we had 400 feeder steers on pasture and cattle prices tanked under a dairy buy-out program. We lost more money than you can shake a stick at.
8. If you weren’t farming, what would you be doing?
I thought about joining the military out of high school, but I have not seriously considered anything else. The long hours is tough farming, but there is a lot of opportunity and you have the advantage of being your own boss.
9. If you were giving a young farmer, just starting out, advice today, what would it be?
I would say that a young farmer needs to be dedicated. They need to be sure this is what they want to do for a long time. It is not a fast trip. I mean, some years you will doubt you make minimum wage. Slow steady growth is the way to go though. Be patient and grow slowly. It will pay-off. Just don’t overextend your debt and expand too quickly. On a good year it can work great, but on a bad year debt will take you down twice as fast. Gaining equity year in and year out is the long-term key to financial security in farming.
10. Any tractor brand you want to publicly endorse?
Sure! John Deere all the way! They can sponsor me anytime they want to.