Bo Norris continues his success on the farm with ideas and expansion. The 26-year-old Society Hill, S.C., grower already has enough experience under his belt to be considered a veteran and a leader. Now, he's been recognized as the best young farmer in the state of South Carolina.
We first met Norris in 2001. He was farming with his grandfather, Buddy Tucker, and had already made the switch to strip-till and was forming plans to expand. Tucker recently retired and runs a store.
Now, Bo and his wife Patti, farm together with his younger brother, Patrick, who graduated from high school last year.
The South Carolina Young Farmer Agribusiness Association recognized Norris as its Outstanding Young Farmer. The Pee Dee Farm Credit Association presented the award on behalf of the Farm Credit Associations of South Carolina.
“Every year, I'm looking to rent more land and expand a little bit,” Norris says, responding to a question about his goals for the future.
He wants to expand to 3,000 acres of cropland to include 1,000 acres of cotton. Since his brother came on board, he also would like to add chicken houses to the mix that also includes stocker cattle.
He went to strip-till for the savings of time and money on corn and soybeans. He's been pleased with the switch, even though it took some time convincing his grandfather of the benefit.
“I kinda got him (my grandfather) turned around,” Norris told Southeast Farm Press in 2001.
Farming wasn't the first choice for Norris, but it was the choice that stuck. He was enrolled at the University of South Carolina, with the intention of pursuing a career as an anesthesiologist. A series of untimely deaths in the family left his grandfather alone to tend the operation.
“That summer I changed my mind one day and went to Chesterfield-Marlboro Tech and got a degree in business management while continuing to run the farm,” he told the Southeast Farm Press in 2001.
He's now in his seventh year of running the operation.
“Some of the new ideas cost you,” Norris says. “I usually try to be a little different. I'm kinda quirky. I always try to be the first one planting, the first one cutting, the first one picking.”
Last year, Norris began planted soybeans with a drill and reports better yields. He also went to all Roundup Ready beans. “Chemicals got high and we were spending too much money. It proved to be a whole lot cheaper to buy Roundup Ready beans and not worry about cleaning out the sprayers.”
Norris stays on top of things, but tries not to let the activity work him into a frenzy.
For example, take last year's hurricane season. He got ahead of the situation by harvesting corn early last year.
“We were through the Monday before Labor Day,” he says. It cost him 12 cents to 15 cents a bushel to dry the early-harvested corn, but he picked up the 35 cents on the LDP. “We made up for it by getting the corn out of the field.
“There are times when doing several things at once will get on your nerves,” Norris says. “The last time ya'll spoke with me it was a dry year and I had started building a house and I wanted to start planting cotton.
“I let it worry me, but there wasn't anything I could do,” Norris recalls. “It got too wet, then too dry — I let it get on my nerves.
“After that, I decided I wasn't going to let it get to me like that again,” Norris says. “Every once in a while I get a little frustrated, but I kinda learned how to keep two or three things going at the same, so when it's too wet I can do something else. When it gets too frustrating, I go fishing.”
As a young farmer, Norris has already learned of the importance of being plugged into what's happening.
He is on the county Farm Bureau board and serves on the advisory committee for soybeans as well as the state Young Farmer and Rancher committee.
“You've got to be involved,” Norris says. “If the rule making gets in the wrong hands, it could mess you up and cause you problems.”