Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Kole Upton shucks an ear of corn on his ranch in Madera County. He harvests the corn to make corn nuts.
Kole Upton began farming corn nuts 20 years ago by entering a contract. He had a desire to grow corn nuts and was looking for an opportunity to do so.
“I had been wanting to get into corn nuts,” he said. “They only farm a certain number of acres in the United States.”
Upton lives in Merced County and farms corn nuts for Kraft Foods in Madera County and is a member of the Madera County Farm Bureau.
“He is very knowledgeable and has always been able to adjust his operation to meet the challenges of farming,” said Scott Brown, who works with Upton for Kraft Foods.
Upton, 74, grew up living and working on his father’s farm. He assisted his father by completing tasks such as feeding cows and driving harvesters. Upton said his upbringing instilled certain values in him.
“You get the basic values of hard work, getting up early and being around people,” Upton said. “You don’t complain about it. You don’t whine about it.”
Brown also feels that Upton is an individual with strong morals.
“Kole takes pride in his family,” Brown said. “I definitely like his honesty and straightforwardness.” When he became older, Upton’s father encouraged him to attend college.
“My dad told me there wasn’t going to be enough land for me to farm. So, I needed to take college prep classes in preparation for a job somewhere else,” Upton said.
Upton then graduated from Stanford University in 1965 with a degree in engineering.
“I always liked math,” Upton said. “Social science seemed like it was based more on opinion than…
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