SHELBY, Mont. – As summer continues along the Montana Hi-Line, Klayton Lohr has settled into his duties as a durum wheat farmer and he continues to be really pleased with how his 2020 crop is shaping up.
“All the durum is headed out and looking beautiful,” Klayton reported during a phone interview on July 7.
He says the excellent crop this year is due to a few different factors. For starters, planting season went about as well as could ever be hoped. Seeds were in the ground in a timely manner and were sprinkled with moisture shortly after. Timely rains have dotted areas of Montana over the summer, as well, which Klayton is eternally grateful for, especially since they keep on coming.
“On June 29, I got an inch and fifteen hundredths, so that was really nice,” he added.
Thunderstorms were in the forecast for the evening of July 7, but Klayton seemed relatively unperturbed by the possibility the storm front could produce hail. While many Montana farmers and ranchers keep a close eye on weather radars, Klayton prefers to live a little more in the moment.
“When it comes to weather, I’d rather be surprised,” Klayton jokes.
In all seriousness though, Klayton has learned over the years there are things in the farming lifestyle that can be controlled and things that can’t. Worrying and fretting over the uncontrollable won’t do him any good. Instead, Klayton approaches each day flexible, with an ability to bend and change plans if need be. He leaves the rest up to God and Mother Nature.
The summer months have been busy for Klayton. Normally, the 24-year-old dryland farmer is a one man show, but since school is out, Klayton has the help of his younger brother, Kolby, who is 17. Klayton is slowly getting Kolby more and more involved in the farming operation, and needless to say, the extra labor alone is a huge help.
The duo had been hard at work spraying for the first little bit of summer, and together, Klayton estimates they were able to spray 1,400 acres of cropland in a day. Klayton would remain in the sprayer while Kolby would haul water. Don’t be mistaken, spraying that many acres in one day makes for a long one, but with Kolby’s help, Klayton figures they were able to spray twice what he can normally do alone.
Next up on the docket is spraying Paraquat on the chem fallow. Paraquat could be considered the “heavy-hitter” of farm chemicals and Klayton certainly does everything he can to ensure he has zero exposure to the herbicide. Klayton has had a running battle with his chem fallow and is hoping Paraquat will do the trick.
“You hope to only have to spray Paraquat once. This is the earliest I have ever had to break it out, so I may have to spray it twice,” Klayton stated.
After the Paraquat is sprayed Klayton will need to turn his attention towards harvest. He reports the bottom leaves on his wheat are just starting to turn, so harvest is looking to be about a month away. The combine will need to be serviced and all other general harvest preparation will start to stack up on the to-do list.
Although Klayton’s duties as a farmer keep him pretty busy, he never forgets to stop and appreciate how lucky he is to live the lifestyle he does. His sister was married the end of June and at the wedding Klayton enjoyed a good conversation with Leon Carpenter, the grandfather of Klayton’s brother-in-law. Listening to Leon’s stories and farming insight are encouraging to Klayton and they often remind him why he does what he does.
“I don’t necessarily farm for me. I farm for the generations who worked hard before me and for the ones that could potentially come after me,” he explained.
The remainder of July will keep Klayton fairly busy as he preps equipment for harvest. It is often that people become so busy building a career they forget to build a life, but even at a relatively young age, Klayton understands a healthy mix of both is necessary.