Organic ‘francher’ to host farm tour – Aug. 4 in Webster

Victoria Lusk vlusk@aberdeennews.com
Farm Forum

Carl Pulvermacher of rural Webster calls himself a “francher.”

“I farm some and I ranch some,” Pulvermacher said.

But the nearly 70 acres he farms are not like most.

Pulvermacher has farmed organically since 1982. He also raises 50 to 55 beef cattle with rotational grazing practices.

He started farming during the 1980s farm crisis, something that can “somewhat” be compared to the ag economy of today, except the interest rates aren’t comparable, he said.

“It was quite a time … I had a choice about how I was going to survive this. Get bigger or a friend was looking into organic,” he said.

That’s something he didn’t immediately jump on board with.

“But lo and behold, a few years later, there I was,” Pulvermacher said. “I could either farm more land, run harder and jump higher or find a niche market.”

Now he considers it something that anyone can do — and something that maybe more farmers should do, especially if they are looking to make a profit.

Pulvermacher estimates he’ll gross about $1,000 per acre of corn this year. That comes at a time when profits seem unlikely for conventional crop farmers.

“I don’t blame the young farmer for wanting to start where their dad or uncle quit,” he said.

But starting with renting a little land, accumulating some assets and going from there is how someone can start from nothing, he said.

“And that’s what I was fortunate enough to do,” he said.

Thirty-six years in, he has a rotation of corn, followed by oats with alfalfa seed, two years of alfalfa and back to corn.

Right now his corn looks as good as it ever has, he said.

“It looked pretty tough at the end of June — curled, six to eight inches. It looked just terrible,” he said.

But the recent rains turned it around.

“We’ve had more rain in the last month than we had all year (prior), he said.

Back in March, Pulvermacher contracted to sell an estimated 18 acres of corn for $8 per bushel. The alfalfa is used by the cattle, and the oats are contracted at $5.70 per bushel. The grains will be picked up at his farm.

Because his input costs are minimal, his net profit — weather pending — looks to be a good this year, especially considering that it looks like conventional corn might net $3 per bushel, he said.

He’s always contracted organic grains by the acre.

“So if one acre is bad, it averages out,” he said. “And you’re not responsible for the grain you don’t have.”

Hosting a farm tour isn’t about bragging, he said. But people who think that aren’t all wrong.

“We’re very proud of what we’re doing and how we’re doing it,” Pulvermacher said. “But I have no financial incentive for doing this. I’d just get great satisfaction when people can see it with their own eyes, touch it, walk it and say, ‘Wow, maybe this is doable.’ To walk a field and see good crops has an impact on a farmer.”

Essentially, Pulvermacher believes if he can farm organically, anyone can. And he’s willing to share his knowledge to help make that happen.

His farm tour is from 1 to 3 p.m. Aug. 4. The farm is a half mile north of Webster on Highway 25.

Wiskota Farm Tour

• Where: 14050 Highway 25, Webster, S.D.

• When: 1-3 p.m., Aug. 4

• For more information, visit https://bit.ly/2LdGwZl.

Courtesy photo