Ben Handcock Makes Last Hard Winter Wheat Tour Before RetirementMon, 09 May 2016 19:27:54 CDT
Nearly 80 participants from across the globe traveled through the Sunflower State May 2-5, for the 2016 Hard Winter Wheat Tour. It was the last tour for Ben Handcock, outgoing executive vice president of the Wheat Quality Council, who has coordinated the event for 25 years. Handcock is set to retire in February 2017.
Farm broadcaster Jesse Harding, with the Nebraska Rural Radio Network, spoke with Handcock last week about his experience with the WQC and leading the popular tour. He has enjoyed planning the annual event and says it has been rewarding to watch it grow over the years.
“When we started doing the Hard Winter Wheat Tour we had 28 to 30 people on the tour in six or seven cars running around Kansas,” he says. “Over the years it’s built its way up to 80 to 90 people in 20-some cars.”
The tour consists of six routes throughout the state of Kansas and gives participants first-hand experience and understanding of the quality of the year's wheat crop even before it is harvested.
“You can’t take a course in this, I don’t think,” Handcock says. “You have to actually get out in the field and get your hands dirty. In two-and-a-half days I think you can learn more here than you could in a semester in college.”
Of course, being part of the tour for so many years means Handcock has some pretty funny and memorable moments to talk about. From almost getting shot by a farmer in southeast Kansas to pulling several stuck vehicles out of the mud - and everything in between - he says it has been the folks he’s met along the way that have made his job so enjoyable.
“The part I’m going to miss is the people,” he says.
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to Harding's complete interview with Handcock, including more details on those funny stories.
The 2016 Hard Winter Wheat Tour resulted in promising outlooks for this year’s harvest. The USDA will release its first estimate of the 2016 winter wheat crop on Tuesday at 11 a.m. CDT.
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