Are you a fan of snack foods? Do you enjoy crunching on the occasional potato chip from time to time? If so, you may have been consuming a by-product of a Nebraska farm without knowing it. Specialty crops such as sunflower oils used to make potato chips raised on Nebraska farms find their way from producers like the Halsteads near Kimball all the way to consumer’s homes.
Bryce and Linda Halstead, Kimball County Farm Bureau members, farm in the Kimball and Dix, Neb., areas focusing on row crop production as well as a cattle operation. And this year, the family ventured into several specialty crops. The Halstead family has been farming in the Kimball/Dix area for several generations. Today, the farm is operated by Bryce and Linda and their son and daughter-in-law Mark and Ashley.
Before the couple started farming, both attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where they met. Linda grew up on a farm near Union, attended Nebraska City High School then attended college for a degree in Home Economics Education and Extension. Bryce grew up on the family farm south of Dix, attended Dix High School and later earned an associate’s degree in agriculture from the University of Nebraska. Since their college days, the couple has lived in Kimball County operating the farm. Linda has played a vital role in the farm’s day-to-day operations aside from the several years she spent teaching at Kimball High School.
The farm produces many diverse products throughout the year. Staples of the operation include wheat, millet and corn as well a cow/calf herd. This year, sunflowers as well as pinto beans were added to the mix of crops. As with other farmers and ranchers in western Nebraska, the operation has to deal with challenges such as high altitude, shorter growing seasons than most of the state, severe weather threats and much lower moisture levels throughout the year. To help combat some of these challenges, strip cropping and no-till practices have been implemented.
The addition of sunflowers as a specialty crop on the farm was a new venture for the family farm. Both sunflowers raised for oil and the confection variety were planted and in turn were shipped to Fort Morgan, Colo., to be marketed.