Nick Bowers won the title for coming the farthest to Mike Starkey's planter clinic, hands down. He farms with his family in Oregon. Starkey held the fourth annual clinic in his shop near Brownsburg.
Bowers grows forage seed, primarily annual ryegrass, in Oregon. It's the main crop in the area. He and another brother have their own land, but both deliver seed to a plant operated by a third brother. Any farm with over 500 acres of annual ryegrass in Oregon typically has their own processing plant to process and bag the seed.
Bowers says he faces rainy seasons when key work has to be done just like farmers here do. He typically harvests the ryegrass seed in July or August. Out of 1,200 acres, he raises over half annual ryegrass, some ladino clover and another transition crop between the two. His bread and butter is annual ryegrass.
"Part of it is exported, but a good portion of it comes here to the Midwest now," he says. "Eight years ago I decided we wanted to try to sell to farmers in the Midwest to try it on cover crops. Mike Starkey was one of the first people that I stopped and met in Indiana. He agreed to try it."
Today, Bowers is Starkey's main supplier. Rodney Rulon, Cicero, another no-till and cover crop farmer, has actually visited Boles in Oregon on his farm. He attests to the fact that they use different equipment and raise different crops, but they contend with many of the same problems, especially the weather.
Boles marketed annual ryegrass in the South before the Midwest market opened up, but he much prefers growing varieties specifically suited to the Midwest. And while he's a grower, he's also a seedsman. He once served on the Oregon annual ryegrass commission, which also promotes use of ryegrass. Now he says he simply doesn't have enough time to do that job right. He spends more of this time traveling to places like Indiana to promote his seed.