Scott Cannada of Edwards, Miss., is the eighth generation of his family to farm in west central Mississippi.

A full time farmer for 11 years, Cannada says members of his family farmed in the area as early as 1827. His main enterprises are corn, soybeans and beef cattle.

As a result of his success as a crop and cattle farmer, Cannada has been selected as the 2011 Mississippi winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. Cannada now joins eight other state winners from the Southeast as finalists for the award.

The overall winner will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 18 at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga.

Cannada farms in partnership with his mother and father. The farm includes about 2,500 acres of which 1,750 acres are owned and 750 acres are rented. His crops last year included corn on 552 acres yielding 112 bushels per acre, soybeans on 546 acres yielding 40.4 bushels per acre and hay on 150 acres yielding 3.4 tons per acre.

“Our yields last year were down due to dry weather,” he recalls. “I was blessed to produce the yields I did.” His five-year per acre yields are better, 128 bushels for corn and 45 bushels for soybeans.

His yields are impressive considering he doesn’t irrigate. “Irrigation isn’t feasible because the water is too deep in the soil,” he explains.  Crop insurance paid off in 2009 when he harvested only a small portion of his soybeans.

He stopped growing cotton several years ago. “I sold my picker and I’m not ready to get back into cotton, even with high prices,” he adds. Though his family grew cotton for many years, plant bugs hurt yields during the final years he grew the crop.

Cannada has about 700 acres in pasture that support 200 cows. His pastures include coastal bermudagrass, tall fescue, bahiagrass and native grasses. He also grows Sumrall 007 bermudagrass, a variety developed in Mississippi, along with Alicia bermudagrass.

The beef herd consists of crossbred cows bred to Charolais bulls. He uses a six- to seven-month breeding season, and calving takes place from December until early May.