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• As a result of his success as a row crop farmer, Abbott Myers has been selected as the Mississippi state winner of the 2013 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award.
ABBOTT MYERS has been named the Sunbelt Farmer of the Year for Mississippi.
Hot, dirty work
When Myers entered Mississippi State University, he didn’t want to farm. “It was hot and dirty work,” he recalls. But in 1970, his father faced emergency eye surgery. Back on the farm, he handled planting, spraying, cultivating, hiring labor, payroll and everything else.
“I made mistakes, but I enjoyed making decisions and planning,” says Myers. “I returned to college. Sheryl, my future wife, and I decided to come back to the Delta and farm. I started growing my own soybeans the next spring. I graduated in 1972 and I’ve been farming full-time ever since. I still enjoy designing and building airplanes, but now they are remote controlled model planes.”
He did not find out until years later that his father was proud of his decision to join him in farming. “He told everyone else, but didn’t tell me until I had been with him many years,” Myers recalls.
As his career progressed, he bought more land, started leveling land with laser guidance and added grain storage. In the 1990s, he added zero-grade landforming, a land leveling technique that flattens fields from one end to the other. After the year 2000, he started bringing his son Ransom into the farming operation.
“We farm heavy clay land, buckshot soils,” says Abbott. Such land holds water well but is slow to drain. He drilled 41 irrigation wells and installed five miles of underground pipe. To better manage water and drainage, he installed 107 slotted board risers and four tailwater recovery systems. In addition to surface water irrigation, he added center pivot irrigation systems.
The only land he does not irrigate is either rented or land that requires moving more than 1,000 cubic yards of soil per acre to level. “It costs $1.30 to $1.40 to move a cubic yard of dirt,” he says.
Cotton was a main crop but it was not suited to the clay soils. “So when crop allotments were relaxed, we started producing rice, and rice has been our salvation,” he explains. “Five years ago, we stopped growing cotton and added corn.”
High labor costs prompted Abbott to use bigger equipment. “We eliminated hand labor and updated equipment from six-row to eight-row, then to ten-row and now to 16-row equipment,” he says. With bigger equipment and early maturing varieties, he was able to speed up harvesting. Earlier harvesting also fits well with his no-till planting system.