What is in this article?:
- For brothers Mike and Mark Pannell, farming's a two-man show
- 'Great group of landowners'
- Drying, storage facilitate harvest
- A farming way of life
Mike and Mark Pannell, who farm in northeast Mississippi, would normally grow corn along with their soybeans. But not this year; they got sandbagged by unfavorable planting weather for their dryland corn. So, they're all soybeans on their 2,000 acres.
MIKE PANNELL, left, and his brother, Mark, were expecting to be harvesting their 2,000 acres of soybeans in late September. Mark had just finished washing and cleaning their combine to spit-shine showroom condition when the photo was made.
'Great group of landowners'
From their shop, their farms are spread 10 miles in every direction, with “probably 100-125 different fields,” he says. “It entails a lot of equipment movement, but many of the fields in a particular location are contiguous, so we don’t do a lot of traveling between fields. We own about 20 percent of the land, the rest is rented.”
“We have been blessed to work with a great group of landowners,” says Mark. “Some of them are retired farmers, and year-in and year-out we couldn’t ask for better folks to work with.”
It’s just as well that expansion potential is limited, Mike says, because they’re a two-man show — they do everything on the farms themselves; they don’t even have part-time help.
“What we’re farming now is about as much as we can handle from a grain volume standpoint,” he says. “I handle the mechanical work, planting, and grain hauling, and Mark looks after all the book work, spraying, and combining.
“At harvest time, Mark runs the combine and I run the four grain trucks, grain cart, and service truck. There’ll be just the two of us in the field and nine vehicles/pieces of machinery. When we start selling grain and moving it out after the first of the year, we’ll both drive the trucks.”
It keeps them hopping, Mike says, and it makes for some long days. “But we make it work. With all the industry in the area — including the new $2 billion Toyota automobile plant 25 miles down the road — the labor situation is tight, and it’s hard to find anyone interested in farm work.
“Like a lot of farmers, we’ve become more and more reliant on technology and on the advice and recommendations of crop consultants. I don’t walk out the door in the morning without my iPhone and iPad.
“I can access all our FSA field maps, variety/planting/yield data, ARCGIS mapping, Agrian Mobile, CaseIH and John Deere Parts Lookup, and various other ag-related apps. And with Internet access, I can pull up chemical information, university research, and markets.
“We have GPS on our tractors, combine, and sprayer, which has helped ease the workload, and enables us to run at night if we need to. We’ve looked at RTK, and while we could get more accuracy with it, I’m not sure, on our scattered, irregular-shaped fields, that we’d get that much additional benefit.”
No-till has also been a major benefit to their operation, Mike says. “We started moving to no-till 15 or 20 years ago and now are 100 percent. The fuel/labor/time/money savings has been tremendous. In fuel alone, we’ve gone from using two to three tanker loads a year to only one.”