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A family tradition

It has taken determination and teamwork for Huwa Farms of Prospect Valley, Colo., to be successful since the late 1920s.

The family operation consists of Rich and Patty Huwa and their three sons, Brent, Corey and Tyrun, as well as their wives Tonya, Rachel and Kelli. Their fourth son, Kasen, is a computer engineer and takes vacation time to help with family operation. In addition, Rich's father, Herman 83, continues to work on the farm and has farmed with horse drawn implements, steel wheel tractors and auto steer tractors.

With the support from all family members, the operation continues to produce crops even through the tough times. Therefore, the family operation has experienced just as many struggles as their number of successes.

On July 13, 1996, Rich and Patty lost all of their crops to a hailstorm. At this point, the couple was ready to sell the farm and move. However, with the determination and passion Brent and Corey had for farming, they convinced their parents to stay and fight for the only lifestyle they knew. The two boys couldn't accept the fact that their family would not be farming any longer.

Farming and the passion for the land is in your blood forever, Brent Huwa said.

"You do what you have to do to make it work," Corey said.

Pulling together

The family knew what they needed to do to make their operation successful. They pulled together and today this four-generation family operation produces a variety of crops such as wheat, corn, brew barley, alfalfa, confection sunflower, yellow beans, cabbage, sod, and mustard. They have also recently added a cow-calf operation of 100 head to expand and diversify their operation.

"We farm 5,000 acres of land and custom farm within a 20-mile radius of Prospect Valley, Colo.," Rich Huwa said.

Conserving viable resources in eastern Colorado has taught Huwa Farms that more is not always better. For the past 25 years, the family operation has fought irrigation water issues and found ways to diversify their operation to conserve those resources.

"One way we practice water and nutrient management is by using a crop consultant through Crop Quest," Tyrun Huwa said.

By receiving assistance from a crop consultant the family has changed its operation to maximize crop inputs, as well as natural resources. Each crop season, soil samples are taken to manage nutrients needed for the development of particular crops.

"Our latest advancement of technology purchased to improve production costs is the investment of a Global Positioning System," Rich said. "The recent purchase has allowed us to save a lot of waste when planting, spraying and doing other field work."

While the Huwas try to maximize their seeding and application rates, they are forced to make production decisions based on irrigation availability. However, the majority of their crops are planted on irrigated farmland.

Since the Huwas implement a large percent of corn into their operation, they are forced to use large amounts of irrigation water to produce a desirable crop. Since the family has growing concerns about irrigation water accessibility, Rich has served on the Lost Creek Ground Water board and Colorado Ground Water Commission for 12 years. In addition, Corey is currently a Ground Water Commissioner.

"One day we will not have access to that well water and will be forced to plant crops that are more drought resistant," Rich said. Until then, the family operation will continue to practice soil and water conservation, in addition to adding more acres to their operation and testing new herbicides and varieties, such as Roundup Ready corn.

Business with family

The Huwas consider themselves progressive producers looking to improve their operation, which has made them successful over the years. At the same time, working through different opinions and ideas can be a struggle when trying to decide which production decision is the best for the operation.

"Since every family member has ownership of the farm, many times it seems like there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians," Rich said.

To alleviate disagreements in the field, the family holds monthly meetings to discuss everyone's opinions and new ideas on current issues and advancements for the farm.

"A big issue we face trying to decide where we take a profit or a loss in the operation," Corey said. "The question becomes if we do make a profit, do we pay off operational loans or invest in advanced technology to increase production. Or, if we have a loss we look for better things to replace them with."

Each year the family sorts through their operation improving farming practices that worked well and looking for alternative things to implement into the operation. For example, the recent addition of the cow-calf operation was a way to change their operation around to better fit their needs.

Making decisions with family can be hard because everyone has their differences and their way of doing things, Patty Huwa said.

"We would rather have family members as business partners as opposed to anyone else, despite the difference of opinions of family members," Corey said.

After losing everything in 1996, the operation grew and the family began implementing new farming techniques into their operation. Currently, the family implements no-till, minimum tillage and conventional tillage practices into their production. In addition, the family is open to trying new varieties of crops and picking up addition custom work.

In the end, the Huwas know that diversification, as well as finding a balance in their family business is the key to long-term success.

"With such a close-knit family, a wonderful community and chance for opportunity, God has blessed us in more ways than we can count," Patty Huwa said.

Lisa Brown can be reached at 620-227-1805 or lbrown@hpj.com.

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