Each year, more than 20,000 Kansas wheat farmers take dramatic risks to grow the wheat that feeds the world. We hope you enjoy learning more about these farmers through our series, the “Faces of Harvest.”
Before she entered school at Kansas State University, Jessie (Zimmerman) Wyrill wanted to be a wheat breeder. Growing up on a farm south of Manhattan, a career in agriculture was her calling. She was well on her way to heeding that call when she realized, in the middle of an internship for a wheat breeding company, that she was allergic to wheat dust. She was devastated.
“I was upset, because I’ve always had an attachment to wheat. I was questioning what I was going to do, and why I was majoring in agronomy,” she recalls. “But it turned out to be a lucky break.”
That’s because in her second year at K-State, she met Jake Wyrill, a farm kid who also was majoring in agronomy. They were married in April, and moved to Jake’s home farm near Kirwin thereafter.
This year, they share their first wheat harvest. Of course, Jessie has to be careful due to the allergies, but with medicine she can cope just fine. And she looks forward to the couple’s first harvest together.
“I love wheat; how it looks different now than it did an hour ago, and how it moves in the wind. I’ve always had a soft spot for it,” she says. “And now, this is our first big show. I’ll get to see what harvest on the Wyrill farm is all about.”
Jake farms with his Dad, David and brother, Joe; plus his uncle, John Bruce and his cousin, John. The family grows wheat, corn, soybeans, milo, alfalfa and sunflowers, in addition to running a cow herd. Wheat is a big crop on their north central Kansas farm, and Jake has fond memories of riding alongside his father in the combine when he was young. Like many farm kids, he began operating the grain cart before running a combine. The younger generation of Wyrills is excited about making their own mark on this fourth generation family farm.
“We’re on a kick for planting canola. We don’t know if it will work, but we want to try it,” says Jake, who adds that corn no-tilled into wheat stubble has been an excellent foundation for crop rotation.
As the next generation of farmers on their operation, Jake and Jessie know how important it is to be connected on social media. Both are active on Twitter (Jessie is @agronomygirl; Jake is @AGRONredbaron).
Jake finds Twitter to be a great learning tool, with an array of agriculture information at his fingertips. For Jessie, Twitter is about reaching out to others who may not understand production agriculture.
“I try to engage those who may not be involved in agriculture,” Jessie says. “I am passionate about this.”