FOCUS ON FARMING Derric Kirschenmann
Continuing a family tradition
Last updated 6/17/2023 at 6:11pm | View PDF
Derric Kirschenmann was a teenager when he started working with his family on their farm, doing a little of everything, learning as he went. When he graduated from high school, he went off to college. "I tried the college thing,but it just wasn't for me," said Kirschenmann.
He went back to work for his family's farm and has been getting a real education that he uses every day.
Kirschenmann is a fourth generation farmer, following in the footsteps of farmers that began with Leroy Kirschenmann. They have grown everything from potatoes, to cotton, to almonds and grapes. He said that they moved away from row crops a few years ago, adjusting to the industry's needs and limitations. "We are mainly in grapes, dehydrated onions, processing tomatoes, corn, and carrots." They also manage several hundred acres for other people.
"Our grapes are my primary focus - from spraying to controlling crews all the way through harvest to making sure everything gets out to the distributors.
"I didn't go to a trade school to learn about farming; I've learned by trial and error. There's challenges in that path, of course. When I'm told to call a mechanic to fix something, I can't.
We can't do that nowadays because of how much stuff costs. One of my challenges is trying to find ways to do as much as we can ourselves."
The water situation is challenging as well, with the farm not getting a lot of water from the canal some years. "We have to use our wells for the only source of water, which gets very expensive and makes our margins on our crops small," he explained.
Kirschenmann said that another challenge is the regulations that are put in place regarding pesticides and dealing with air pollution. "It just makes it really hard these days to farm. It really takes the fun out of farming because all we are doing is worrying about regulations."
Kirschenmann Bros. have 500 acres of almonds, 325 acres of tomatoes, 157 acres of grapes and 80 acres of onions. They also custom harvest and farm for other people, adding 2,000 to 2,500 acres.
Kirschenmann still finds joy in farming, though – eEspecially when it comes to the fact that he gets to be with his family every day. "I get to be with my dad [Kenny Kirschenmann] on the farm every day, and that is the best thing in the world. He is my mentor and hero."
Kirschenmann said that his dad is the best thing in the world, the best farmer in the world. "If I can be half the farmer that he is and accomplish half of the things he has, then I can be great too."