Most of the corn is sold through brokers, although some is sold locally. He has 90,000 bushels of on-farm storage, which helps to better manage harvest flow and marketing.

“My soybean system is much the same as corn,” Jay says. “I plant several varieties to spread risk — usually 15 percent to 20 percent late Group IV beans and the rest early to mid-Group V so harvest won’t (most times) conflict with cutting corn.

“This year, I’m planting Pioneer 95Y01 and 95Y70, two Terral varieties, two Asgrow, and one Progeny, all Roundup Ready.

“I look at Mississippi State University test results, as well as those from the Brooksville Experiment Station near here and various seed company test plots in the area, and come up with short lists for corn and beans. And there are always a few varieties that I’ve fallen in love with because they’ve performed really well on my farm.”

Soybean harvest usually starts around the end of August or early September. His four-year average for soybeans is about 43 to 45 bushels, and he sells through brokers, to Tom Soya, a local elevator on the river, and to Cargill and Baldwin Grain.

“Because all my production is dryland and weather is always a risk, I forward contract only about 60 bushels of corn and 25 bushels of soybeans,” he says. “2006 really hurt the crops, and I didn’t have crop insurance, so I don’t want to over-commit myself.”

Even though irrigation in the prairie region was long considered impractical because well drilling was prohibitively expensive and water flow was generally not sufficient for pivots, Jay says a lot of systems have been installed in recent years, fed from lakes or catchment ponds.

“We now have Valley and Zimmatic dealers here,” he says, “and interest in irrigation is growing. I have a 15-acre lake and probably will add a pivot next year that will give me a three-quarter circle for coverage on 166 acres.”

Unlike many rural areas that don’t have easy access to the Internet, he is fortunate that a microwave transmission tower is located directly across the road from his home and shop, which allows him to get broadband service for his computers.

“Also, 20 of us farmers went in together and leased space on the tower for a RTK repeater antenna, which provides excellent coverage for this area. I don’t have RTK equipment yet, but when I upgrade my tractor, probably next year, I will have access to these signals.”

Within the last year, Jay has constructed a 60x80 shop and office building that is heated, has ceiling fans for summertime, and numerous lighting fixtures with long life tubes that brighten the darkest winter day. The shop has an 18-foot ceiling, ample height for his largest equipment and his motor home.

“I like to take care of equipment, so I keep it inside when it’s not in use, and I keep it clean,” he says. His big John Deere Model 8760 tractor is 20 years old and looks brand new. “We thoroughly wash it down and wax it when we bring it in for the winter,” he says.