Not too long ago, a corn producer might throw everything he could at a crop to make impressive yields. But that’s a luxury afforded only by high commodity prices, and those days are gone.

When profit margins are tight, efficiency takes precedence over high yields, and farmers like Tyler Lindsey need to make every input count. In 2013, this south Georgia farmer was the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension High Yield Corn Production Efficiency Contest state winner in the irrigated production category. His winning entry was 301.8 bushels per acre at a cost of $2.87 per bushel, with the DeKalb 62-09 variety.

With the latest U.S. Census of Agriculture showing the median age of farmers at 58 years, Lindsey – who turns 25 in August – is bucking the trend, but he doesn’t recommend the farming life for everyone, and he’s had some good help along the way.

“It has been a long and hard road. It seems there’s always a fire to put out somewhere. It gets more and more difficult each year dealing with the stresses farming, but it’s that way with every farmer. It’s just part of the game” says Lindsey, who has been farming since he was 17. Lindsey’s father also farms full time after retiring from Monsanto. “It has been nice to be able to pick up the phone and call dad and get the advice of someone who’s been doing this for nearly 40 years.”

While land rents and prices continue to increase along with the price of inputs, returns aren’t keeping pace, says Lindsey.

“After 2012, we decided if there was ever a time to get bigger it, that was it, so we expanded the operation and diversified. You have to take it day by day – it’s different from anything else, and I promise you nobody would still be farming if they didn’t really love it,” he says.

In addition to corn crops in both the spring and fall, along with peanuts and soybeans, Lindsey grows about 350 acres of produce including watermelons, squash, cucumbers, cabbage and greens.

“We also grow small grains during the winter along with greens. We usually grow cotton but not this season. Counting double-cropping, we’re farming roughly 2,500 acres of crops in Colquitt, Berrien and Cook counties. But I couldn’t do all of this myself, and you’re only as good as the men who help you. Cass Dorminey, who’s my farm manager, is my backbone. He keeps everything moving forward day after day. I don’t know what I’d do without him, and I’m lucky to call him a close friend,” says Lindsey.

He was strictly row-cropping until about two to three years ago, when he added produce to the mix along with some beef cattle. His wife, Jasmine, he adds, looks after the cattle.

“She’s six months pregnant with our first child, Paisley, who is due in August. I don’t know what I’d do without her. She’s been here through the good times and the bad, always helping me keep my head up.”