10.7.15 / ADMIN
Harvest Season for Crops and Agritourism
By Becky Moreland
Becky Moreland and her husband, Matt, farm 1,200 acres of corn, soybeans and hay, along with tending 550 head of beef cattle and a 150-head dairy operation, in Harrisonville, Missouri.
Like most farmers across America, my husband and I are focused on harvest right now. Many of our duties over the next four to six weeks, such as cutting silage (fermented, moist cattle feed from the entire corn plant) and harvesting corn and soybeans, are standard operating procedure for most row-crop farms in the region.
For example, since we feed our dairy cattle silage grown in our fields, we have to make that a high priority come harvest time. It can only be cut and bagged at just the right time, based on ideal moisture levels. Too much moisture, and it won’t bag properly. Too little, and it won’t offer the right nutritional benefits.
For some, harvest could start in August, and for others, it could last until Thanksgiving – or even longer. However long it takes to get all of the crops out of the field, that’s how long you might see combines driving through fields near you.
Alternative Sources of Revenue
Harvest time is also important for our farm because of the other revenue streams from non-crop related sources we’ve added to it.
We host events and weddings, and fall is an ideal time to show off the beauty of our farm and our region. We also host a pumpkin patch every year, which draws visitors who pick their own pumpkins, purchase gourds and spend time getting lost in our corn maze.
We offer field trips and tours on our farm, for educational or enjoyment purposes. Everyone – from school kids to curious city folks – is welcome to come learn about farming on these tours. Next spring, we’ll also be adding a dairy component to our tour, as more and more consumers have expressed interest in understanding modern dairy operations.
Over the years, we have added these different revenue opportunities to supplement our row-crop operations. As grain prices have dropped in recent years, these other sources of income have become more and more important. This trend – known as “agritourism” – is growing nationwide.
Agritourism can encompass everything from educational tours and field trips to event planning and rural-destination weddings. At our farm, we are also adding a pick-your-own strawberry patch, which we will plant after harvest. The first batch of berries should be ready in May.
As the cost of land continues to increase and grain prices continue to decrease, we feel fortunate that we can continue to farm our traditional row crops and livestock while pursuing other opportunities, such as agritourism, to take advantage of the amazing beauty of the natural resource that is our land.