What is in this article?:
- For 31 years, Roy Motter - a former accountant - has successfully managed Spruce Farms’ wheat operation in Brawley, Calif.
- This summer, Motter will accept a post as secretary/treasurer for U.S. Wheat Associates, the wheat industry’s export market development organization which promotes U.S. wheat sales to 100-plus countries.
- His new USW Board responsibility will take him to more countries to help develop more markets for U.S. wheat.
Roy Motter, Brawley, Calif. wheat producer.
Roy Motter has a twinkle in his eye that speaks volumes about the California and U.S. wheat industries.
Born into a California family with restaurant management as its core, Motter married a farmer’s daughter, Jacqueline Fleming, in California’s Imperial Valley in 1972. He sensed the call to farm and quit an accounting job in San Diego to join the Fleming family’s Spruce Farms located in Brawley (Imperial County).
For 31 years, Motter has successfully managed Spruce Farms’ wheat operation. This summer, Motter will accept a post as an officer for U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), the wheat industry’s export market development organization which promotes U.S. wheat sales to 100-plus countries.
“I am very excited about the opportunity that the U.S. Wheat Associates Board has bestowed on me as an officer,” Motter said in his farm office in late March.
Motter, 63, is a managing partner of the 2,500-acre diversified farming operation. He and his third-generation farmer brothers-in-law Larry and Robert Fleming, grow winter produce, Desert Durum wheat, sugar beets, seed alfalfa, and Sudan hay. The Fleming family has farmed for about 90 years.
“I enjoy faming,” Motter said. “I like the green color of growing fields of wheat and its transition to the amber color. The song America the Beautiful includes the phrase ‘amber waves of grain.’ It’s a good feeling to know our farm feeds people.”
With fingers flying, Motter — the former accountant — rapidly struck the keys of the well-used office calculator and grinned.
“Spruce Farms produces about 3,500 tons of wheat annually which generates 2,500 tons of flour which becomes about 2,500 tons of pasta. With annual pasta consumption at about 20 pounds, Spruce Farms produces enough pasta to feed about 250,000 people.”
Spoken like an accountant — and a farmer.
Most years, wheat is a rotational crop at Spruce Farms. It has become a cash crop over the last three years due to good prices. Most of Motter’s 2012 crop is forward contracted to Barkley Seed, El Toro, and Imperial Grain Growers which sell the wheat to mills.
In the early days of wheat production, Spruce Farms Motter grew the Yecora Rojo red wheat variety and Mexicali Durum wheat. Grain head shattering under occasional windy conditions at harvest convinced Motter to eliminate red wheat in planting decisions.
Today, 100 percent of Motter’s wheat crop is Durum wheat, specifically Desert Durum, mainly used for pasta. Late this spring he will harvest fields planted in the RSI 59, Orita, Desert King, and Havasu varieties.
At Spruce Farms LLC, wheat requires about 3.5 acre-feet of water annually. The water is supplied from the Colorado River at a $20-per-acre-foot cost.
Last year’s wheat yields totaled about 3.6 tons per acre; an average crop for this low-desert production area.
Desert Durum is grown under irrigation in the desert valleys and lowlands in California and Arizona. About 12 percent of California’s 700,000 wheat acres is Desert Durum. About 95 percent of Arizona’s 100,000 acres of wheat are Desert Durum.