It’s harvest time on Ray Makamson Farms, and things are going well: Three cotton pickers are running full speed, modules are quickly forming along the turn rows, and there’s nary a drop of rain in the forecast.

Makamson, however, is busy dividing his thoughts between the current field activity and the next one. Call it a forward-looking management style.

When it’s planting time, for example, he is usually focusing on what he needs to do to make harvest and irrigation go smoothly. At harvest, he’s figuring out what he wants to plant in the spring, and where he wants to plant it.

If something goes wrong during the season, he makes a mental note of it, and during the winter, he revises plans and procedures to avoid making that mistake again.

Makamson, the 2011 Farm Press/Cotton Foundation High Cotton Award winner from the Mid-South states, draws from a number of assets to make this approach work — 38 years of cotton-producing experience, a unique relationship with his employees, his trust in God and a love of farming.

Ray, his farm manager, John Harris, and eight full-time employees grow 3,050 acres of cotton and 700 acres of soybeans near Itta Bena, Miss. His daughter, Emily Gnemi, also helps with bookkeeping for the farm. Bruce Pittman is his consultant.

The Makamsons are part of a rich history of farming in the region. Ray’s grandfather, Loyce, sharecropped in the area, trapped and hunted for a living and raised seven children. He soon discovered that he had another talent, buying and trading land, which laid the groundwork for his five sons, including Ray’s father, Lamar, to become farmers.

Ray says he will never forget the afternoon, soon after he started farming, when his grandfather, Loyce, gave him a backhanded compliment that firmly established his status as a farmer and as a Makamson.

“He flagged me down on the road — something he never did; he never stopped just to talk. I thought I was in trouble. He said, ‘I want to tell you something. I want to tell you I’m proud of you. I just came from my accountant, and he told me that there are now three generations of Makamsons who have tax problems. So, I’m really proud of you. Then he rolled up his window and took off. It was worth a million dollars for him to tell me that.”