What is in this article?:
- Joe Morgan: Peanut, cotton and corn rotation 'has been good for usâ€™
- Peanuts offered more profit potential
- Peanut marketing challenge
- Peanuts take a lot of tractor power
• "As far back to the 1980s, I had been wanting to grow peanuts," says Mississippi farmer Joe Morgan, "but they were still under the government quota system, and it was hard to buy or rent quota from established growers.
• “We were doing well with soybeans, making good yields, but couldn’t get enough land for it to be an economical crop. Peanuts offered more profit potential per acre."
• In 1990, M&M Farms was able to get 45 acres of quota and they've been growing the crop ever since — with 800 acres in 2012.
JOE MORGAN, right, and his son, Joe Jr., grow peanuts, cotton, and corn on their 2,350-acre farm in south Mississippi.
Peanuts take a lot of tractor power
In their equipment lineup, they have two Amadas peanut diggers, a KMC flex digger that’s used on uneven land, and three Amadas pickers. Their six-row cotton picker is a John Deere 9996. They’ve been sharing a John Deere corn combine with another grower, but this year plan to buy one of their own.
“It takes a lot of tractors for our operation,” Joe says. “We need five tractors for peanut harvesting, or six if we have to do any shaking, and for cotton we need three tractors. We’re usually planting and harvesting peanuts and cotton at the same time, so we need a lot of equipment.
“We have eight John Deere tractors, and all but one have RTK guidance equipment, which gives us the precision we need for strip-till. We also have RTK on our sprayer. We usually replace our tractors all at once to take advantage of multi-unit discounts.”
They have four full-time employees and use some part-time help at busy planting and harvest times.
In 2004, the Morgans started using poultry litter for fertilizer, adding commercial nitrogen and sulfur as needed.
“On cotton land, we’ve been applying 3 tons per acre,” Joe says, “but this year we’ll cut back to 2 tons; on our corn ground, we apply 4 tons per acre. Demand for the litter has increased in recent years and it’s getting harder to get.”
Last fall, for the first time in many years, they planted winter wheat, about 800 acres. “It looks like there’ll be good money in it if we can get a good yield,” Joe says. “In the past, we averaged 50-60 bushels, but we quit growing it after a freak late frost caused a big loss. After we harvest this year’s crop, we may leave some of the land out of production or plant milo on part of it, or we may try double-cropping some cotton or peanuts.”
Joe, who has served as president of the Mississippi Peanut Growers Association for seven of the eight years since it was organized, says he “could not have dreamed” as a young beginning farmer that his modest operation would become what it is today.
“We’ve had a good life here,” he says, “and we’ve been blessed to have hung on and succeeded in south Mississippi farming. My philosophy of farming is that if there is any limiting factor, I don’t want it to be something I’ve done or haven’t done; rather, I want it to be something beyond my control — weather or other disaster. We’ve tried to take care of our land and build it up, so we can leave it in better shape than we got it.
“I’m grateful to Patricia for all she has done over the years, and I’m pleased that Joe Jr. chose to farm with us. It has been a joy to have him working alongside me all these years.”
Joe and Patricia have four grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Joe Jr. and his wife, Grace, have two children, and their daughter, Tommy Jean Daugherty, and her husband, John, also have two children.