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“The ability to irrigate can help to lessen the risk involved in growing a crop like corn that needs water for maximum yield,” says Clint Tindall, who farms with his father, Butch, in northeast Mississippi. “And it can make a big difference in cotton, too — last year, on one of our farms we got 1.6 bales non-irrigated and 2.25 bales with irrigation. Crop insurance just isn’t that practical for many farms in this area. So, irrigation is our form of crop insurance.
BUTCH TINDALL, left, and his son, Clint, are adding irrigation capability, where practical, on their farms in northeast Mississippi.
Corn variety choices
Corn varieties “come and go so quickly,” he says, that “we won’t be growing a single variety this year that we grew two years ago. We’ll be planting seven different varieties to match soil types, for ‘insurance’ against a variety failure, and to spread out harvest. Some of the seed will be treated with Avicta for root knot nematode suppression.”
Varieties this year are DEKALB 6469, 6805, 6697, and 6694 as the refuge variety; Northrup King N68B-3111 and N77P-3111; and Dynagro 56PV10. “We based these choices on field trial data for our area and soil types, and our past experience with these companies’ products.
“As we add irrigation and can increase plant populations, we’re hoping we can consistently get 150-175 bushels.”
They’ve just added a new on-farm storage bin with 45,000 bushels capacity. Most of their corn is marketed through Gavilon Grain LLC at Rosedale, Miss.
“We’re changing over to 12-row planting this year,” Clint says, “and are rehipping land that was 8-row. This has allowed us to go from running five tractors to only one, another big savings of diesel fuel.
“We have both red and green equipment. Our CaseIH MX230 and MX240 tractors have Trimble auto-steer systems. We also have CaseIH MX110, MX7130, and MX7220 tractors and John Deere 7230, 8100, and 9420 tractors.
“We don’t have highboy sprayer; rather, we use spray rigs on our high clearance tractors. This is a more versatile arrangement for us, since the tractors can be used for other farm purposes, while the highboy is a one-use machine.”
They don’t presently have a combine, but will buy one this year — “just whatever is the best deal,” he says.
They soil test every year and make variable rate applications of dry fertilizer, based on Veris points.
“With our particular blends, it has been about as cheap to use commercial fertilizer as poultry litter,” Clint says. “But we want to try some litter to build organic matter where we cut down spots in fields to improve grade and facilitate irrigation.
“On fields new to irrigation, our plan will be to plant wheat, then double crop cotton, and plant corn the next year. This would give us three crops on the field, with two being heavy residue crops in two years.”
The Tindalls have six full-time employees and two drivers for the two 18-wheel rigs they operate for year-round contract hauling of grain and fertilizer.
Active in the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, Clint currently is serving as chairman of its Cotton Committee and was previously chairman of the Young Farmer/Rancher Committee. He also serves on the board of the Calhoun County Farm Bureau and is a National Cotton Council alternate producer delegate.
His wife, Kristy, is a teacher at Calhoun City, and they have three children, Connor, Emma, and Baylor.
Riding through the countryside, Butch Tindall reminisces: “Wouldn’t it be interesting if farmers from my father’s generation could come back and see how things are done today, how different they are from the mules and hand-picked cotton of their day?
“I was just a kid, but I remember the transition from mules and hand-picking, the battles with boll weevils, and the bermudagrass we fought tooth and nail.
“Just think how amazed those old-timer farmers would be at Roundup Ready and Bt technology, to learn about eradication of the boll weevil, to see huge machines with GPS and auto-steer, and mechanical pickers with on-board module builders.”
He smiles: “We’ve got all these ways to make farming more efficient — but it seems that paying the bills is harder than ever. We used to say if we had a bad crop or two, we could ride it out for a couple of years and catch up. But with costs the way they are now, and going up all the time, losing a crop can be hard to overcome. Losing two could put you out of business.”