WHEAT SUCCESS. Pembroke wheat was developed through a research partnership between the Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association and the University of Kentucky. The wheat has Fusarium head blight resistance, which Kentucky farmers needed to make no-till wheat successful. Sam Halcomb

Wheat Yield Contest Winners Willing to Take Risks

The intense management required to raise grains for distilleries & human consumption pushes generational no-tillers to explore new practices.

The Halcomb family in Schochoh, Ky., is full of lifelong learners and critical thinkers willing to push the envelope and try new things when most growers would shy away from the risk. 

Sam Halcomb and his brother, John, are sixth-generation growers at Walnut Grove Farms, an operation based in the southern part of the state. They farm with their wives, Stephanie and Sarah, and children. Their mom, Meredith, lives on the family’s homestead, which is only a few miles from Tennessee. 

The Halcombs no-till 5,000 acres of soybeans, 3,000 acres of corn, 2,300 acres of wheat, 650 acres of barley and 50 acres of rye throughout southern Kentucky and Tennessee. While they were once a commodity production-driven operation, they have now shifted their focus to grain quality and service. Their crop rotation is a balance of customer demand, good agronomics and optimal soil health. Their biggest clients are Kentucky and Tennessee distilleries.

Along with their families, they also have a team of crop care specialists, equipment specialists, grain handling specialists and a front office staffer. 

“We have an excellent team of people at Walnut Grove Farms,” Sam Halcomb says. “Without these folks, we couldn’t begin to pull off a successful crop year.”

Raising Spirits

“We call it strategic luck,” Sam Halcomb says of the farm’s relationship with the distilled spirits industry. “When my brother and I took over the operation, we were more interested in developing long-term relationships with end users than high-volume commodity production, but we didn’t know which…

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Katie Pratt

Contributing Writer

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