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Know the West

Leonard Felix


Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Leonard Felix has been spraying chemicals on crops for 27 years. When he isn't spraying Olathe's famous sweet corn in western Colorado, he may be flying over a national forest dropping native seeds on a recent burn.

Leonard Felix: "We work with beekeepers when we can. But they don't want anyone to know where they put their hives because they're competing against each other for the best locations. I don't think the winter bee kill problem has to do with Penncap. It's most likely a mite problem that the beekeepers aren't guarding well enough against.

"We don't use much Penncap around here. There are lots of better products out there and some are cheaper. And there is some evidence that Penncap hurts beneficial insects that control other pests like mites. It doesn't make sense to apply something that's going to force you to come right back and spray again for something else.

"We don't use more chemicals than we need to. That would be stupid because the bugs would develop a resistance to them quicker and we'd have to spray something else. We're crop doctors. We go out in the fields and diagnose the problem and the remedy, and like the doctor we have the final responsibility if anything goes wrong.

"We've absolutely gotten more environmentally responsible over the years. Those guys who just sprayed without care are gone."