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Constant quest for improvement has rewards for Keith Morton

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Mississippi farmer Keith Morton continues to study, seek advice, and adopt practices that will enable him to increase yields and revenues while improving the land he farms.

“As early as I can remember,” says Keith Morton, “I couldn’t imagine doing anything other than farming. When my father bought his first cab tractor in 1973, I was two years old and he built a buddy seat in it so I could ride with him.

“Later, riding in his lap and ‘helping’ steer the tractor was a great thrill. It was a big day when I was 13 and could drive it by myself. I made my first crop in 1987 when I was still in high school. The power of the machinery, the smell of fresh-turned dirt, watching the crops come up and mature — I couldn’t imagine any other kind of life.”

His father, Billy, who died in 2003, “taught me hard work, to be respectful of others, and so many principles that have served me well. I miss him, and there’s not a day I don’t hear his advice in my head.”

A perfect storm of insects, weather, his father’s declining health, and other problems got Keith’s adult farming career off to a rocky start. (See story here: http://bit.ly/10qWy24).

But he persevered and in 2004 he and wife Beth were honored as the state’s Young Farmer/Rancher of the Year by the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation and they represented the state at the national convention.

Today, he continues to study, seek advice, and adopt practices that will enable him to increase yields and revenues while improving the land he farms.

“Mississippi Extension and research specialists have been of tremendous help to me over the years,” he says. “Jay Phelps, area agronomist, has been very generous with his advice and assistance, and has helped me to really understand rotation and how crops can complement each other.

As chairman of the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board for two years, Keith saw firsthand how producer checkoff dollars are used for research and programs to benefit growers.

“There are many research projects being funded by the Mississippi Soybean Promotion Board that have a real impact on the profitability of the state’s farmers,” Keith says. “Jimmy Sneed, Hernando producer, and immediate past MSPB chairman has been instrumental in getting a website developed (www.mssoy.org) that will make all present and past research available to growers.”

Keith, who also is a director of the Mississippi Soybean Association, a director of the Mississippi Land Bank’s Corinth branch, president of Tippah County Farm Bureau and has served on the board of directors of the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, says “I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to be a farmer, to do the work I love. We have some good neighbors who farm near us, and we all work hard and help each other. God has entrusted me with this land, and I believe it’s my duty to honor Him by caring for it as best I can and making it as productive as I can.” 

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