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Expenditures for additional grain bins, center pivot systems, a new grain dryer, trucks and trailers to haul grains — and possibly a new module builder cotton picker — are investments that allow Mike Graves and his sons, Allen and Tyler, to increase efficiency, boost yields, and reduce costs on their 4,500-acre Mississippi operation.
MIKE GRAVES, from left, his father, Hines Graves, and sons Tyler Graves and Allen Graves, at the start of the new season on their 4,500-acre farming operation near Ripley, Miss.
Ownership in cotton gin
They have a one-fourth ownership in Farmers Gin at nearby Ashland, Miss., and gin their cotton there. “The gin processed 7,500 bales last year,” Mike says, “but back in ‘normal’ cotton years, it ginned as many as 23,000. At cotton’s low point, though, it did only 1,400 bales.”
Their cotton is marketed through Lee Thompson at Marks, Miss., and corn is sold through a Cargill marketing service. “They give us market updates every day via cell phone and the Internet. It takes a lot of the guesswork out of selling that crop. Our soybeans are hauled to a terminal at Memphis.”
Thanks to technology, insects and weeds are not a major problem, Mike says.
“We haven’t had any resistant pigweed yet, though it’s all around us. We do have some resistant marestail. We change up chemistries to do what we can to avoid resistance issues. We changed our burndown this year and are using a new DuPont product, LeadOff, along with Roundup and 2,4-D.
“We haven’t sprayed for worms since 1995, a year when they almost ruined us. Bt technology has pretty much solved that problem. We normally spray once for plant bugs and once for stink bugs.
“We use a fungicide on all our soybeans and a lot of times we’ll use one on corn, too.”
A pest that is a problem, Allen says, is deer. “There are some fields where we can’t grow soybeans because of them, and now they’re beginning to get a taste for corn, too. We probably lose 100 acres of soybeans to deer every year.”
Mike says they would consider expanding if more acres came along. About half the land they now farm is owned, the other half rented.
“We’ve been at this level for several years,” he says, “except for the land we have in wheat this year that came out of CRP. There just isn’t that much land that becomes available in this area.”