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Applegate's with FCS Financial Staff

A little more than a stone’s throw south of the Iowa line, along quiet Highway 63, a small airport stands tall among soybean stubble south of Queen City. The gently rolling farmland to the west soon gives way to the fertile bottoms of the Chariton River.
It is here in Schuyler County where years ago a high school boy was thrust into farming after the untimely death of his father.

Then a senior in high school, Harve Applegate joined his brother John on the farm. But the young man would bring with him more than a willingness to reap the harvest they sowed; Harve Applegate gleaned his father’s love of flying.

“From the time I could remember anything, I was going to do it,” Harve professes. “I was going to fly.”

Today, Applegate Airport lives on in memory of Harve and John’s father, Joe, and his aviation legacy flies high just outside Harve’s back door.

On the Farm

Applegate Farms consists of about 1,500 owned and rented acres Harve and John manage in partnership, with nearly 1,200 acres dedicated to soybeans. Their operation encompasses a 12-15 mile radius of Queen City with farms in both Schuyler and Putnam counties.

“We’ve always planted heavily in soybeans,” Harve states adding, “North Missouri can compete with anybody in the world growing soybeans but we can’t corn.”

Harve attributes that to soil type and notes north Missouri is always two weeks away from a drought.

“Personally, the biggest revolution in my farming operation in the last several years has been Round-up Ready® soybeans,” he explains. “It’s made farming so much easier. I know we are getting some resistance but everything is so much more manageable now.”

Farming both in the river bottom and upland has helped the Applegates hedge their bets. “In a dry year like this year, we scored big time in the Chariton River bottom. It was a very good year,” Harve notes.

The three previous years, though, Harve says the highest yields were found on the upland. “We figure that if one doesn’t make, the other will.”

A proponent of minimum till, Harve explains that planters are more accurate today than in years past. And with high seed costs, precision is everything, although, he says you can go overboard with technology. “I’ve always tried to play it a happy medium. The bottom line is I want to suck every dollar I can out of it.”

Success for the Applegates comes from following their father’s incredible work ethic. “When it was time to get the crop out, you got the crop out,” Harve says. “I’ve always lived hard and fast by that.”

This seasoned farmer has learned, too, not to run to the implement dealer the first time a new gadget hits the market. He cautions not to “get glassy-eyed at the big farm shows.”

Harve explains, “New equipment eats you alive if you let it. There’s no sin in running old equipment; just keep it nice.”

In the AirApplegate Antique Plane

Harve Applegate flew his first airplane solo on his 16th birthday; he earned his pilot’s license at 17.

An aviation fanatic, Harve says while some might consider it an expensive hobby, it’s all in your priorities.

“The neatest thing about the antique airplanes and being involved in aviation is the different people you meet and not just from the United States,” Harve states. “We have friends in England, Canada, all over. Sure, the planes draw us together, but it’s (about) the people.”

Harve’s entire family shares a love for aviation. A second grade teacher, wife Carolyn, is also a pilot and together with Harve hosts every August a large fly-in at their farm. Harve even admits forewarning his wife before they got married about his airplane habit. They married despite it.

Oldest daughter Taryn, 24, is married to Ryan Pemberton and lives in Spokane, Wash., with granddaughter Allison. Like dad, she received her pilot’s license at 17 after flying solo on her 16th birthday.

Youngest daughter Shalyn, 17, isn’t a pilot yet, but loves to fly and says she’ll likely get her license, too. And, despite him being confined to a wheelchair with cerebral palsy, son Matthew, 26, is in the air most every day in the summer alongside his dad checking the crops.

Harve himself owns three airplanes —two classified as antique, one as classic. According to Harve, planes from 1945 and older qualify as antique while those from 1945-56 are considered classic. A contemporary class includes aircrafts from 1956 to the present.

“I’ve met a lot of dignitaries through flying,” Harve admits. He shows airplanes at all kinds of air shows and fly-ins as well as at antique air shows, even attending the largest one in the world at Oshkosh, Wisc. The Antique Airplane Association national convention is held each year in Iowa and Harve serves on the board of that organization.

Harrison Ford. John Denver. Paul Harvey. Neil Armstrong. Steve McQueen. Aaron Tippin. Astronaut Frank Bormann. Harve has brushed shoulders with them all and had extensive conversations with a few of them. “It’s really amazing who’s turned on by flying,” he says.

A few awards have even come Harve’s way as a result of his showing. “I like nice airplanes, but I don’t build them for the trophies,” Harve says. “I just enjoy it.”

The airplane has been a stepping-stone of sorts for Harve. He says the first one he bought was a good, solid plane, but it was “definitely a project. I got it up to show status and won the show at Oshkosh and another one. It sold. Then, I got a higher dollar one.” Harve notes.

Having an airplane and owning an airport has come in handy on the farm for the Applegates, too. Every day in the summer, Harve climbs in a plane to check his crops.

“You can see deficiencies from the air that you can’t see from the ground,” he realizes.

“All of our chemicals are custom-applied and I’m all the time telling (the applicator) not to mess up, because I’ll find it.”

Harve’s dad, Joe, started the airport in Queen City back in 1964 both for himself and for friends after the one on the north end of town closed.

According to Harve, the airport sees a lot of use, especially in the agriculture industry in the summer. Funeral homes, local businesses, sky diving clubs and pilot associations use the facility. A number of tenants store their planes in the hangars at the airport.

Applegate's HarvestAs a Customer

Joe Applegate had been a long-time customer of FCS Financial, beginning when the cooperative was known as Federal Land Bank.

“I really became involved with FCS after my mother passed away,” Harve explains, noting that’s when he and John took total control of the farming operation. In 1995, Harve and John bought out their other brothers and sisters.

Over the years, Applegate Farms has turned to FCS Financial for real estate and operating loans as well as for some equipment financing.

“FCS is geared toward farmers,” Harve says, “and they have a staff of really nice people. It’s good to have all of our finance needs under one roof.”

According to FCS Financial’s Debbie Ragsdale, “Harve makes it easy. He and John are an example of the type of customer we have at FCS Financial. They have a strong farm operation and we are lucky to work with them.”

Embracing the Challenge

From being thrust into farming as a senior in high school to failed crops to parenting a special needs child, Harve Applegate has learned to embrace the challenges of farming —and life in general.

“You just roll with the punches,” he advises noting the weather is by far the greatest obstacle facing any farmer.

“Play the hand you’re dealt,” Harve continues. “Always play the hand out the best you can; that’s the best philosophy for life in general.”

Harve sees a need in getting more young people involved in farming. He notes specifically that in the ag flying industry, it’s hard to get young people involved and the earning potential there is huge.

“Everybody is going to have to get their hands dirty in life if they are going to get ahead,” Harve realizes.

As for Applegate Farms, Harve is unsure whether there will be a family member to continue the legacy his father and grandfather sowed in the fertile north Missouri soil.

For now, though, the farmer turned aviator is content living hard and fast when it’s time to get the crop out.

Harve concludes, “I farm so I can fly.”

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