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First-time farmers forge ahead with planting, after tornadoes
By BOB RIGGS
Indiana Correspondent

PEKIN, Ind. — Grain farmers till the soil, fertilize, plant seed, spray herbicides and insecticides, then harvest, store and transport their crop to market. Just like the experienced farmer, new ones have to face time and weather restraints, varying  prices for their product, drought, insects and all other problems common to the profession.
Then sometimes, there come unseen circumstances of nature that add to frustrations and try their patience as they struggle to produce a living wage through all their efforts.

One wet morning early in November, Scott Luttrell was anxious to complete his first year of growing a grain crop.

He said he was anxious to fuel up the combine and do a little farming as soon as the ground dried up. “Two more weeks to go,” said Luttell at the time, “and the good Lord willing, I can have all the rest of the beans out.”

That is an amazing feat, considering that back in March, he and his wife, Sylvia, lost their home, a 40-by-50-foot shop building and suffered damage to the tractors and equipment he had been buying in order to farm their previously leased land himself.
Both in their fifties, the Luttrells had worked for years to build up their property from a 40-acre plot they once purchased from a local woman.

With the comforts of their modern house gone, the Luttrells are living on their 500-acre farm in a 26-foot camping trailer donated to them by disaster relief groups in the spring, when tornadoes rolled over several towns and villages in southern Indiana.

Luttrell said it was in the late summer of 2011 when he finally decided he would enter agribusiness by growing soybeans. “I spent the whole winter buying equipment to farm,” he said. He has a strong remembrance of his youth working in the fields on his grandfather’s farm.

“Granddad would be on his tractor cultivating on one end of the row and he put me on the other end with a hoe, chopping weeds.”
In March, after the tornado hit, he still had enough equipment to farm. His grain hauler, the combine and the planter were miraculously untouched when the tornado tore diagonally across his rectangular farm.

The question, said Luttrell – who admits to being headstrong – “Was, do I go ahead and farm the ground like I wanted, or do I lease it to somebody else and then farm it next year?”

With the help of many good people such as family, friends from far and near and disaster relief workers who even cleaned all of the storm debris from his fields so they could be planted, he is happy with his decision to go ahead.

“Do it again?” said Luttrell, who still has not settled all of the insurance claims or received all of the payment for his soybeans. “Absolutely, no question about it. When you look at all of the money we had tied up in equipment, it was a learning experience and I would do it again.

“Sylvia might disagree, however,” he said, adding his wife had been terribly upset and was nervous in their lightweight quarters. They sometimes bunked at their son’s house in nearby Scottsburg.
“I think it is going to end up being a good year,” said Luttrell, though “not as good as it could have been if we didn’t have that drought.
12/19/2012