Family farm grows variety of crops

Heather Smith Thomas/For the Capital Press Doug and Melanie Carlquist are seen on their diversified farm, which they operate as a team.

Doug Carlquist and his wife, Melanie, live on the farm where he grew up.

“Originally, I was farming with my brother,” he said. “About 12 years ago he had a son coming back to farm with him, so we separated our operations and started farming on our own.”

On the farm, Melanie is his top hand. Their children have helped on the farm as they were growing up.

“My girls have married and gone on to other things but my son Parker is a senior in high school and still helping me,” Carlquist says.

The farm grows mainly row crops but also raises small grains for several seed companies, mostly soft white wheat and some barley.

“We usually sell to Western Seeds and AgriSource, which are both in the Burley-Heyburn area,” he says.

He’s also grown dry edible beans, for both commercial seed and garden bean seed.

“We’ve worked with a number of companies, and for the garden bean seed we’ve sold to Harris Moran,” Carlquist says.

Many seed crops are grown in the region.

“There are many dry beans grown here, with a lot of different companies contracting,” he says. “We have ideal conditions for growing seed crops; there is very little disease pressure and we usually have sufficient water to bring a crop to maturity.”

His farm has surface water rights from the Northside Canal Co.

“We now have all sprinkler irrigation and we converted everything from wheel lines to center pivots, with hand line or solid set sprinklers in the corners,” he says.

Moving to pivots has been pushed by the labor shortage, he says. It’s hard to find enough help to move hand lines, and pivots are efficient, he added.

The typical crop rotation for his fields is small grains, rotating to beets, and then a crop of corn or beans, and then back to small grains. This seems best for the soil and the plants.

“It helps cut down on diseases. If you plant too soon again with the same crop you end up hurting yourself in the long run,” he says. “Rotation gives more opportunity to control the weeds and insects a little better.”

At this point his son Parker is not sure whether he wants to farm.

“He has other interests. Each young person has to figure it out,” Carlquist says. “Some grow up thinking they are never going to come back, then after they get away from home for a while they decide that farming is not so bad after all.”

Their daughters live in Oklahoma and Virginia, but one is nearby in the Burley area — “and we enjoy being able to babysit our 15-month-old grandson,” he says.

“They would all like to move back to smaller towns and enjoy rural life, but they have good employment where they are,” he says.

“Our farm is just a family operation; my wife is my right hand ‘man,’” he says. “Her parents were in the bee business but she enjoys the farm. She does a little bit of everything — helps with planting, harvest and is able to do anything and everything. It’s a team effort with a lot of versatility.”

Melanie also takes care of the bookkeeping, “which I am grateful for,” he says. “We are blessed to have a good team.”

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