Seed Oat Processor Helps Potato Growers
By Joe Kertzman, managing editor, Badger Common’Tater
What was once a quaint seed oat cleaning operation owned and operated by a lone potato farmer in Antigo, Wisconsin, has evolved to become a sizable rotational crop specialist for almost every potato farm in Langlade County.
Schumitsch Seed Inc., situated on the southwest outskirts of Antigo, has survived through three generations and continues to grow and partner with potato farmers in helping them succeed with their rotational crops.
Although Schumitsch Seed doesn’t currently do any farming, it is engrained in its history. Joe Schumitsch moved to the outskirts of Antigo in the 1940’s, at Schumitsch Seed’s current location, where he built and maintained a simple dairy operation.
Lester Schumitsch, Joe’s son, continued to farm the location in the years after Joe had passed and started growing potatoes on the land, phasing out dairy farming.
In 1962, Lester purchased a Clipper grain cleaner and the seed oat business began. He started out with just his own oats at first and did well selling the seed.
Lester picked up a few good distributors and demand soon outweighed supply. When the neighbors caught wind of what Lester was doing, they also started growing seed oats for him to clean and sell as part of their potato rotations.
Fast-forward through the late ’70s and ’80s, and Scott Schumitsch, the youngest of Lester’s three sons, expanded on the seed business, taking on many more potato farmers’ oats as they moved to three-year rotations.
Lester eventually sold the farmland, and every building on the property was retrofitted to either store seed oats or hold all the grain cleaning equipment. Business was moving right along, but eventually hit tough times in the late ’80s.