“With the high prices of fertilizer, I looked into poultry litter. But there’s a lot of time and work in hauling and spreading it, and the economics just didn’t work for me. This fall, I’m going to start grid sampling so I can go to variable rate fertilizer applications, which I hope will help hold down the cost. I used variable rate on corn for the first time this year.”

“I’ve got GPS and auto-steer on my tractors, swath control on the sprayer, and a yield monitor on the combine. If I do variable rate on cotton next year, I’ll also add a yield monitor to the picker.”

His equipment lineup is John Deere, and includes three 8000 series tractors, 12-row planters on 38-inch spacing, a 9650 combine, a 9986 6-row cotton picker, and a 4710 sprayer.

As is the case with farmers over much of Mississippi, an increasingly troublesome “pest” is deer. “They haven’t bothered cotton and corn much this year, but last year they ate 20 or so acres of soybeans clear to the ground.” He’s also got a large patch of hybrid pumpkins (“$50 a pound for the seed”) that he grows for area school kids, and he’s hoping the deer won’t bother them.

Oliver has three full-time employees, and his father helps out at planting, harvesting, and other busy times. A cousin also lends a hand when needed. Most of the equipment servicing and maintenance is done in his farm shop.

He has 110,000 bushels of on-farm storage. “It really helps smooth out things at harvest, when we’ve got grain coming out of the field fast and furious, and it allows me to market more efficiently.” He sells his grain through Bungee at Yazoo City, Miss.

He has also used grain bags for short term, in-the-field storage. “That has worked well,” he says. “I’ll put 10,000 or so bushels in a bag.”

Having grown up on a farm, Oliver says, “Farming is something I pretty much always knew I wanted to do — and [he laughs] when I was old enough that it dawned on me I couldn’t be a football player forever [he played on high school and community college teams], I came back and farmed with my father. It’s a great life, and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

“As land became available, we steadily got larger. I’d like to keep growing, but land doesn’t become available very often in this area.”

Oliver and his wife, Christy, have three children: Rhett, 10; Reece, 8; and Lucy Grace, almost 5.