Something about exceptional farmers sets them apart. It’s an attitude that’s evident in a neat, well-maintained farmstead; a shop or equipment shed that’s orderly, uncluttered and easy to work in. Further evidence shows up in crops that are virtually weed free, tractors that run well past their amortization dates and employees who do a bit more than asked. And year in and year out, yields push well above county averages.
Neither aloof nor arrogant, exceptional farmers are non-assuming, quick to give credit to the hired help, the spouse, the good soil, a timely rain and a benevolent Creator.
Chuck Rowland, Seminole, Texas, peanut, cotton and grain producer, is an exceptional farmer. His fields are neat, the yard of his comfortable home well kept; he credits much of his success to his wife Vickie and to divine intervention. He pays attention to production details. Even his pick-up is clean. And he makes outstanding yields.
Jeff and Jerry Heard Jr., 2002 Lower Southeast Winner
With a long and storied family history of growing peanuts, the Heard brothers have persevered and maintained an efficient, high-yielding operation on their Newton, Georgia, farm.
“We’re growing 700 acres of peanuts, 700 acres of cotton and 700 acres of corn. That’s an ideal rotation for peanuts,” says Jerry. “Rotation probably is the most important thing we do to cut costs and maintain high yields. Rotation also helps keep disease pressure at a minimum.”
The Heard brothers are continually looking for ways to be more efficient, but there aren’t many remaining. “There are no more corners to be cut. If there are, it’s something we don’t know about yet,” says Jerry.
Jamie Lee, 2002 Upper Southeast Winner
There’s a time for everything on Jamie Lee’s farm: A time for weed control, a time to irrigate, a time to dig and a time to rest. Doing things at the right time pays off, says the 32-year-old peanut farmer from Courtland, Va. Most important, there’s time to do things right.
Lee averaged 4,925 pounds per acre on 268 acres last season.
On his Flaggy Run Farms he pays attention to the needs of his crop and the needs of his family.
“We don’t farm by the calendar,” Lee says. “We farm in a timely manner and try to pay attention to details.”