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Hands-on management and modern equipment with GPS are key components for Gant Farms, a 6,000-acre soybean, corn, and rice operation at Merigold, Miss.“I can remember when I was growing up, it took a week or 10 days to pull 15-20 acres of corn," says Donald Gant. "Now, one of our combines can harvest that much corn in a couple of hours or less, ready to go into the bins. And, they are much gentler on grain than earlier models."
RICE HAS BEEN a mainstay crop on the 6,000-acre Gant Farms operation at Merigold, Miss., says Donald Gant. “We usually have about 1,500 acres, but only 500 this year — the economics just didn’t work out.”
It’s a steamy late summer morning, corn and soybean harvests are in full swing, and wouldn’t you know it, the grain augur on the bins at Gant Farms headquarters picked this critical time to break.
But Donald Gant is unperturbed.
“Things will work out,” he says calmly, wading through the gaggle of dogs that enthusiastically greeted his arrival on the farm. And sure enough, a while later his cell phone rings with the news that the needed replacement part has been located and repairs can be made expeditiously.
When you’ve got 6,000 acres of corn, beans, and rice to harvest and get into storage, time is money — and anything that throws a monkey wrench in the work routine can mean lost money.
“When we put a combine in a field, we don’t like to stop it for anything,” says Don, who farms with his sons, Mike and Scott, and brother-in-law, Bobby Douglas, in the heart of the Delta at Merigold, Miss. “We don’t stop to dump grain from the combines — we do it on the move.”
It’s that kind of management, combined with the harvesting efficiency of their two GPS-equipped/auto-guidance Case IH 7010 combines, that allows them to cover a lot of ground in a day.
For corn, the machines have 12-row headers, and for soybeans 30-foot headers.
“We can easily cut 20,000 to 25,000 bushels of corn with one combine in a day,” says Don. “For two combines, that’s a lot of grain coming out of the field in a very short period. “I can remember when I was growing up, it took a week or 10 days to pull 15-20 acres of corn. Then, we’d have to haul it to the barn and shell it. Now, one of these combines can harvest that much corn in a couple of hours or less, ready to go into the bins. And, they are much gentler on grain than earlier models.
“The first combine I bought years ago cost $10,600; the last one we bought was $350,000 — and that didn’t include a header. But the efficiency of these machines is just outstanding.”
When GPS technology was just coming on the scene years ago, Don recalls, “It was something I never thought we’d be using. But now, four of our tractors are equipped with it, and auto-steer, as are the combines.
“I always thought I could put down a good, straight row, or keep a combine steady through the field, but these systems provide pinpoint accuracy, and they don’t get tired. I think back to the pre-GPS era, when a day on a tractor or combine would leave me totally exhausted — now, it’s so much easier and less tiring.”
They also have yield monitors on the combines, and “the technology lets us fine-tune things so there is minimal grain loss.”
By mid-August, the Gants were finished harvesting dryland corn, which yielded 140 bushels, and Don was expecting 175-180 bushels on the irrigated acreage.