Leimgruber updates on his Valley farming

By Ronnie Leimgruber, Imperial County diversified grower

Alfalfa seed is what I’m growing now. That seed is being set and is blooming. The market is fairly steady. We’ll harvest in mid-July. We’re starting to do a lot of ground preparation for all plantings. We’re still in the middle of making hay. Hay production is going strong. We’re just starting our fifth cutting. We’ve got summer-quality hay. We’re making our horse retail hay and our export hay. We’re not making our dairy hay anymore. We’re doing either export hay or horse-quality hay. That market is steady — low but steady. We just started our first cutting of Sudan grass and that’s a pretty strong market, bringing close to $190 (a ton) for top-quality Sudan, $50 for the off-quality Sudan.

I haven’t done silage wheat in a long time, but we just finished the wheat-grain market. We do durum wheat—desert durum, which is a specialized durum wheat that’s only produced in southeastern California and southwestern Arizona. It’s a patented variety, and we can hit our 13 and a half percent protein and most places can’t hit that high protein levels. We’re just finishing up with that.

Durum wheat tends to be a higher market and our desert durum tends to be higher than the durum market. The durum market is set in North Dakota and Canada, and that’s where 90 percent of the durum wheat is grown. But we grow desert durum, which is very high quality. They take our durum and blend it with Canadian and Montana wheat to blend their proteins up and they blend ours down. So we tend to get a premium for our wheat production.

The millers like our wheat because we can guarantee protein year after year. We never have a natural disaster. We never have a flood. We never have hurricanes. We never have drought, because our environment is so controlled. We can do five-year contracts on wheat, which nobody else in the world could ever think about doing. That market is fairly low. It’s about $12 a hundredweight, which is low for durum wheat. But it’s high for most other wheat.

Permission for reprinting this article is granted with credit to the California Farm Bureau Federation.