Abbott Myers wanted to be an aeronautical engineer, but those plans changed when his father required eye surgery and called him home to manage the family farm.

The decision-making of farming excited him, so he changed his major to agricultural engineering, and the next year started growing soybeans on his own.

Myers, of Dundee, Miss., eventually took over the family farm and has developed it into one of the best in the Mississippi Delta.

As a result of his success as a row crop farmer, Myers has been selected as the Mississippi state winner of the 2013 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. Myers now joins nine other state winners from the Southeast as finalists for the award. The overall winner will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 15 at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga.

From his start 42 years ago, he now farms 7,138 acres, including 1,350 acres of rented land and 5,268 acres of owned land.

Irrigation boosts his yields. Last year’s per acre yields include irrigated corn on 527 acres, 176 bushels; rice on 1,836 acres, 186 bushels; irrigated soybeans on 2,443 acres, 46 bushels; and dryland soybeans on 1,497 acres, 30 bushels. Myers plants corn and soybeans in 30-inch rows, and plants hybrid rice to raise yields.

 “We have 480,000 bushels of grain storage and are blessed to be close to Mississippi River grain terminals,” Myers says. “We use the normal grain marketing tools, puts and calls, hedging, basis contracts and forward contracts. Our rice is marketed through a cooperative mill in seasonal or call pools. We do our own market research and make all marketing decisions.”