Mike Kubicek has retired as executive director of the Oklahoma Peanut Commission after 22 years of service. He announced his decision at the annual Oklahoma Peanut Expo in late March.
“I want to put the rumor of my retirement to rest,” he said during opening remarks at the annual event, held at the Quartz Mountain Resort near Lone Wolf, Okla. “It’s not a rumor. I am retiring.”
Kubicek leaves the position with a long list of accomplishments, including successful efforts to help move Southwest peanut production to high oleic varieties and provide manufacturers products with improved shelf life and flavor.
Three high oleic varieties have been released from the USDA-ARS Center for Peanut Improvement in Stillwater in recent years. The Red River Runner, which Kubicek named, was released in 2011. Ole’, a Spanish type peanut, was released last year, and Venus, a high Oleic Virginia peanut is being released this year.
Kubicek says helping launch those first high oleic peanut varieties is “the one thing that pleases me the most. It was a collaborative effort with the Leaf Corporation (now part of Hershey), Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University, Texas Tech University, the Oklahoma Peanut Commission, the Texas Peanut Producers Board and USDA-ARS.”
Several more high oleic varieties will be released within the next few years.
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Kubicek also praised the Oklahoma Peanut Commission board of directors’ leadership and the research team at Oklahoma State University and USDA-ARS for improvements that increase production efficiency for Oklahoma farmers.
Kelly Chamberlin, USDA-ARS peanut breeder, says Kubicek has been a driving force behind the peanut breeding program, “including funding for my position. Of all the people in the industry he has been the most important for my work in many different ways.”
During a retirement ceremony, Kubicek received commendations from Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., and Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese.
Joe D White, current chairman of the Oklahoma Peanut Commission, says Kubicek has been an inspiring leader. “We have not always known where we were going,” White says, “but Mike always had us in the right place. He would tell us where to be. He’s like a good coach to get us in position to be successful.”
White adds that Kubicek is “passionate about everything he does. He’s a great leader and a great friend.”
Ron Sholar, long-time Oklahoma State University Extension peanut specialist, takes over as executive director of the Oklahoma Peanut Commission.
In his former position, he worked closely with Kubicek and recognizes the impact he’s had on the industry.
“Mike has worked tirelessly and successfully on behalf of the Oklahoma peanut industry,” Sholar says. “It’s hard to imagine anyone having had a more profound effect on the entire industry.
“Producers greatly appreciate that Mike has always fought fiercely for their interests, and he won most of those battles. But he always did that in a way that didn’t alienate others. On the contrary, while he worked directly for peanut growers, he also had the trust and confidence of other segments of the industry.
“He will be missed enormously.”
Kubicek and Kianna, his wife of 47 years (as of May), will retire to their grain, forage and livestock farm near Shawnee.
“Maybe I’ll be able to get farm work done on time now,” Kubicek said.
(See the April 16 issue of Southwest Farm Press for a full profile on Kubicek.)