Posted on Jul 19, 2019
Larry Kendig started his career in agriculture at a young age. To help him get started, his dad gave him three acres of land near his hometown of Osborne, Kansas, where he planted potatoes. His grandfather gifted him two heifers, and he expanded his herd from two heifers to 40 cows by the time he was a senior in high school.
Kendig went to college for 3 and a half years pursuing an animal science degree from Kansas State University before returning home to continue farming and ranching. Over time, Kendig has weathered the storms of economic and physical hardships, but said despite the challenges, he has never strayed away from his first career choice.
The Kendig family farm and ranch was homesteaded in 1870, and with that legacy, Kendig said he wants to continue bettering the operation for the next generation.
“As a fourth generation farmer, I’m excited that my sons are involved, and, hopefully, my grandkids will get involved because they would be the sixth generation to be a part of this,” Kendig said. “That’s something special.”
Just as Kendig’s father and grandfather passed down their knowledge, Kendig said he is getting to do the same. Larry and his oldest son Lance run about 300 head of cattle, and on their Angus operation they select for carcass traits, focusing on genetics to enhance marbling as well as the rib eye. Kendig’s cattle are sold to Niman Ranch, which originated in Bolinas, California, for their all-natural beef market. Kendig said their operation is self-sufficient, feeding crops such as sorghum to their cattle.
Besides running cattle, they raise sorghum, wheat, corn, soybeans and hay. In an effort to produce a quality commodity, his family has been using cover crops on the farm for the last 7-8 years to improve soil properties and increase organic matter.
Through this experience on the farm, Kendig sought opportunities to be involved in leadership and help push efforts that will better the agriculture industry. This led to advancing himself and his operation by being a member of Leadership Sorghum Class IV, he said. Kendig admitted he was a critic at first of the Leadership Sorghum program, but after he got started, he said he realized the value and quality of the program.
“I’m impressed with everything we have done so far,” he said. “I didn’t know there were 127 different ways to use milo. I think we’re missing out on some things, but the marketing opportunities are exciting.”
Kendig said he was hesitant to get involved at first, but mentors he met through other leadership programs helped him overcome fears and enhance his leadership and networking skills. He has enjoyed networking especially with the younger generation because of the unique perspective they bring to conversations, he said.
Kendig also said Leadership Sorghum has integrated multiple facets of the industry in order to educate and provide a call to action for its class members.
“Most programs train you, and then you are supposed to fall in line,” he said. “We need out of the box, forward-thinking individuals so we can overcome the problems that have hit us and the ones we may face in the future.”
“I look forward to what will be accomplished through joint efforts of experienced and younger generations,” he said.
Equipment: Red combines and green tractors
Tractor Tunes: Motown
Favorite Season on the Farm: Planting
Favorite part of Farming: Watching the crops come up and baby calves being born
Hobbies: Hunting, fishing and watching sports
Larry is a member of Leadership Sorghum Class IV, a program designed to foster the next generation of sorghum leaders. The program exposes members to various aspects of the sorghum industry from basic and applied research to international marketing. Through both hands-on and classroom-style education, participants gain an understanding of how sorghum moves through the value chain, how checkoffs and interest organizations interact on behalf of the industry and what the future holds for the crop. The program also provides professional development training and networking opportunities.