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Producing Excellence

Producing Excellence shares compelling stories of American farmers and ranchers, both newcomers to agriculture and producers who span generations.

Producing Excellence

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Cole Vculek


Cole Vculek won FFA's prestigious American Star Farmer award in 2011. 

Crete, ND

Products Raised or Grown: Soybeans, corn and seed potatoes

Size of Operation: 900 acres

Years in Business: 6

Farm Credit Partner: AgCountry Farm Credit

Years Working with Farm Credit: 1

Starting with just 2.4 leased acres, Cole Vculek now runs a 900 acre diversified farming operation, and continues to work on his family’s farm as well. That’s not bad for a young man just 22 years old.

Cole credits growing up on the family operation for his interest in becoming an independent farmer himself, saying, “Ever since I was old enough to walk, I was interested in farming.” That interest sparked him to help establish an FFA chapter at his high school, and his involvement with FFA strengthened his desire, and his ability, to farm even further, teaching him principles of leadership and cooperation as well as key business tenets including crop diversification and the importance of record keeping in today’s farming environment.

For his Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE), which is a key component of FFA participation, Cole established an onion farm on 2.4 leased acres. The success of his fledgling operation provided seed money for him to expand his acreage, first through further leasing, and even more last year with a purchase of 640 acres, financed as part of AgCountry Farm Credit’s Young, Beginning and Small Farmer program. While expanding his acreage, he also shifted away from onions, focusing instead on corn, soybeans and seed potatoes. His corn and soy crops are sold to the local elevator or end-point processing facilities, including ethanol plants and soybean crushers; his move into seed potatoes was inspired by his family’s operation, a processing potato farm that now uses his seed potatoes to start their own crop.

Integration between the two operations goes further, sharing equipment as well as labor. “My operation doesn’t take up all of my time,” he says, “so I also do whatever is needed on the family’s farm.” Among those responsibilities are field and irrigation management activities, both of which employ state-of-the art technologies, including grid sampling, auto steer and mapping technology on planters and remote monitoring in the irrigation systems that automatically send a message to Cole’s cell phone if there’s a problem.

Cole’s success as a farmer, built in part on experience he gained through FFA, has also been rewarded by that organization: he earned FFA’s prestigious American Star Farmer award last year, the first farmer from North Dakota ever to do so.

Download a PDF version of this story here.

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