“The way we used to grow rice was very labor-intensive; with zero grade and straight levees we’re much more efficient. The work my father started all those years ago has really been beneficial to us, and Ransom and I want to continue to make the land better for the generations that follow us.

“We catch all the rain that falls and we have tailwater recovery systems — rice loves that warmer water. We’ll average about 1.2 acre feet of water on rice in a season, compared to 3.5 to 3.8 acre feet for conventional levee fields. And there is a significant energy savings for pumping water; we’ll fill a diesel tank only one time, assuming we get some rain during the season. The air-cooled Deutz power units we use are very reliable and very fuel-efficient, a major consideration with today’s high energy prices.”

Power units are electric wherever electricity is available; they are more cost-effective than diesel, he says.

“Irrigation on our buckshot soils is not an exact science,” Abbott says, “but with water we can grow very productive grain crops. We’re blessed with abundant water at only about 14 feet, and can easily pump 2,500 gallons per minute. Also, there are a number of bayous and sloughs running through our farms, and where we can, we pump from them.”

Most of their irrigated land is either flood or furrow, Ransom says, but they also have two center pivots; one covers about 200 acres of beans, the other 200 acres of corn.

“One was badly mangled by a recent tornado,” he says, “and is currently being reworked.” The same storm put sizable dents in a couple of grain bins, broke restraining clamps on one and lifted it an inch or so up from the foundation.

Ransom maintains water on the zero grade rice fields during the winter and leases out duck hunting pits. This has been very popular and generates additional income.

Harvesting of corn starts about mid-August, rice about the first week of September, and soybeans the last of August or first of September.

They have 480,000 bushels of capacity in on-farm grain storage bins, but Abbott laughs, “No matter how much storage we have, we always need one more bin. We store all our rice and some of the corn. We don’t have any 18-wheelers; we have only 10-wheelers to bring grain in from the fields. We contract all of our grain hauling — we don’t want to tie up our people driving trucks.”

They have six full-time employees, most of whom have been with them for many years.

He says “We’re great believers in co-ops, and we market our rice through Producers Rice Mill. Ransom handles marketing of the soybeans and corn.