Grower Stories: Steve, Billy and Gerrid Gust

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There aren’t many quiet days on the Gust’s farm in Davidson, Saskatchewan. Steve Gust, and his two adult sons, Billy and Gerrid, along with their wives and the six kids between them, all pitch in to keep the acreage brimming with durum wheat, canola, lentils, soybeans and field peas. “I’ve been farming since ’67,” says Steve. “My grandfather was a farmer when he came to Canada in the 1920s. My dad farmed, then he and my brother went into business together and I went my way. For me, the best part of farming is working outside, and working with family,” adds Gerrid.

With a family like this one, there’s rarely a dull moment, or a moment without laughter. “I quit high school to go custom harvesting.” Steve recalls, adding with a chuckle, “You know, you can’t be going to school in a combine, you’ve got to choose your path.”

Steve, true to the family’s name, is never in the same place for long. Having travelled to places like Thailand and Australia many times over the years, he’s settled into a “snowbird” schedule, spending his winters in Mesa, Arizona. In his absence, Billy and Gerrid manage the day-to-day with a team of hired hands from Australia. All of whom live in a spacious apartment above the Gust’s equipment shed. “There’s a lot of us around,” says Billy. “So, many hands make light work.”

While there may be no scarcity of labour, it’s a testament to the family’s team ethic that there’s no sense of “too many cooks in the kitchen.” Everyone in the family has a job, and each job is integral to keeping the business growing and profitable. Billy’s wife is the farm’s accountant, Gerrid’s kids help cut the grass and with meal preparation, and Steve and the guys put in the bulk of the elbow grease. The way things are headed, the team working the fields might be on track to grow even more. “My two younger kids are talking farming already,” Gerrid says with a laugh. “But you can’t throw a 12-year-old out on the field for free when you’re paying grown men wages for it.”

By the looks of the fields, those wages were well earned. The Gusts prefer to grow DEKALB® 74-44 BL, as the hybrid has taken to their land perfectly. The glowing fields are on track for a strong yield this year, having held up beautifully against weather, weeds and disease. “Our region has trouble with group two weeds, like stinkweed and shepherd’s purse,” says Billy when talking about seed genetics, “We spend a lot on chemicals, so anything you put in the seed that you don’t have to spray on, I’m all for.” “I like to look for the best performers,” Steve adds proudly. “It’s best to stick to what grows well in your area.”

The family is also considering giving DEKALB® 75-65 RR a try. With the kids growing fast, the Gusts are finding the time-saving potential of straight cutting more and more attractive. “We would have straight cut last year, but the weather didn’t turn out,” says Steve.

In the meantime, the clan is investing in other tactics to manage their crops as efficiently as possible. That’s when they bring in yet another helping hand—their DEKALB® Sales Representative, Carmen Gruber. “This is a family that really aims to farm smarter,” says Carmen. “So, we work together to really look at the land and see what makes sense.”

Sometimes that means trying different tank mixes and comparing results. The Gusts have found a formula that works, but having Carmen close by keeps them on top of innovative new products. “If something goes wrong, I can phone Carmen and get the support I need,” Gerrid says earnestly, “Even before Carmen joined the team, DEKALB® has always had great staff who will take you places and show you what you need to see.”

And when the sprayer is parked, you can’t have too many pairs of boots in the fields. “I really believe in this expression,” says Billy with a grin, “The best thing you can have on your crop is your shadow.”

We thank the Gusts for choosing DEKALB® brand seed for their farm and wish them a safe and successful harvest this year and for many generations to come. Check out the results of farmer-managed DEKALB Market Development trials on DEKALB.ca this fall.

If you’re interested in growing DEKALB this growing season…

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