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Farmers for the Future: Building on wheat

The summer of 2008 was almost storybook perfect at the Hayek family's farm near Wilber, Nebraska. Some of their corn and soybean yields hit records. Prices were high.

Best of all, "I made all of my kids' ball games. That's worth a lot," says Doug Hayek.

At age 37, it was his first summer farming at home in almost 20 years. Doug and his brother, Daryl, have sold their custom combining business, Hayek Harvesting, which at its peak cut wheat and other small grains on 30,000 acres from southern Oklahoma to North Dakota.

In November of 2007, the brothers purchased a quarter section of land near their family's homeplace. Their sister and brother-in-law, Wendy and Darin Keller, bought another quarter, as did their parents, Myron and Karen Hayek.

That expanded the base of a farming operation of more than 4,500 acres of irrigated and dryland corn, beans and wheat, with land rented from more than a dozen owners. Crops are kept separate, but the family pools its labor and machinery.

None of this would have been possible without three things: Custom work that spreads machinery costs, the family's teamwork, and the generosity of Myron and Karen.

The summer of 2008 was almost storybook perfect at the Hayek family's farm near Wilber, Nebraska. Some of their corn and soybean yields hit records. Prices were high.

Doug got into custom farming right out of high school in 1989. At the time, his father was farming about 2,400 acres. "There wasn't enough ground for a son-in-law and Doug and Daryl to farm," Myron recalls.

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