“We can think of nothing more suitable than to have our new Dr. Raymond Sidwell Research Facility’s grand opening be part of our May 13 Wheat Field Day, as Raymond worked diligently for decades to make the annual field day one of the premier agricultural events in the Southern Plains,” said Tom Coon, OSU vice president for agricultural programs.
Sidwell served as senior station manager for the 143-acre experiment station, located in the heart of wheat production country near Lahoma, from June of 1980 until his passing in December of 2013.
“We invite everyone to join us as we honor Dr. Sidwell and showcase the importance of crop research being conducted through our statewide Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station system,” Coon said. “Lahoma is situated on Highway 60 just west of Enid, for those who have never been to the experiment station. Signs will be posted.”
There is no cost to attend the 2016 Wheat Field Day, which will take place from 8:30 a.m. to approximately noon. Lunch will be provided free of charge thanks to the generosity of several sponsors.
Richard Austin, current station superintendent, said the state-of-the-art Dr. Raymond Sidwell Research Facility has a conference room, offices and restrooms compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, and features a large open bay design that will facilitate equipment and make possible field day events unimpeded by weather.
“There is a lot of orange integrated into the building, signifying it is an OSU facility, which everyone who knew Raymond recognizes would be important to him,” Austin said.
In addition, Sidwell was known to be fond of porches, so one was incorporated into the front of the facility.
“It’s a nice touch people can enjoy, allowing those who visit the facility to be outside but out of the sun and hopefully remember what Raymond meant to Oklahoma agricultural producers and agribusinesses,” said Randy Raper, OAES assistant director.
More than three decades of Sidwell’s meticulous management of the station allowed for major research efforts in wheat breeding and variety development, soil fertility, weed science, soybean varieties and cropping systems, grain sorghum variety trials, plant pathology and entomology.
Through station educational activities such as the annual Wheat Field Day, Sidwell hosted literally thousands of guests over the years, including agricultural producers, commodity groups, foreign dignitaries, national and state legislators and numerous other officials, representatives and individuals from the public and private sectors.
“Dr. Sidwell was an important part of our Wheat Improvement Team, working to ensure wheat growers were able to take advantage of improved crop varieties and research-based best management practices,” Coon said. “He really was one of the great ambassadors of the land-grant mission, helping Oklahomans improve the quality of life for them, their families and their communities.”
The Sidwells – Raymond, his wife Brenda and their children Bambi and Brady – have long been highly regarded members of Oklahoma’s agricultural and agribusiness communities, and are recognized by their farmer peers as very progressive and proactive production agriculturalists.
An OSU agricultural economics alumnus and president of Sidwell Seed and the newly established Enterprise Grain Company located in Kremlin, Brady Sidwell said his father implemented many science-proven practices into the family operation that were backed by cutting-edge research done at the North Central Research Station under his guidance.
“Our family is both extremely proud as well as humbled to have this opportunity to honor our father in such a way,” he said. “Research and Extension programs at land-grant institutions play a critical role in Oklahoma and American agriculture.”
Sidwell added the family is grateful to be able to do their part in further promoting the work being done by the OSU Wheat Improvement Team.
“As a longstanding certified seed wheat producer, we will continue to utilize the best-in-class seed genetics being released by OSU every year and know that the new Dr. Raymond Sidwell Research Facility will only help this already well-respected program reach new heights,” he said.
For Bambi Sidwell, she always knew how passionate her father was about agriculture, in general, and wheat improvement, in particular.
“Growing up on our family farm near Goltry, our dad had an excitement about continuously improving wheat production,” she said. “He enjoyed sharing ideas with other producers that would have a significant and positive impact on people’s lives and their farming operations. Our dad was keen on maintaining a meticulously clean operation, something we strive to continue today.”
An OSU agribusiness alumna, Bambi said the family is proud to be able to take part in honoring her father in a way that enhances research and educational programs conducted at the Lahoma experiment station. Funding for the new facility was made through the Sidwell family, the Sitlington Trust and OAES.