When Kenny Qualls retires from farming one of these days, he won’t worry about the person taking over the reins. In fact, his son, Garrett, is already running things, at the ripe old age of 24.

The Quallses farm about 2,200 acres around Lake City, Ark., including 800 acres of corn, 800 acres of soybeans and 600 acres of cotton. Kenny made his son a partner in the operation about four years ago, shortly before Garrett graduated from Arkansas State University with a degree in business. Kenny said his son “has been working on the farm since he was five years old. He got it in his blood early.”

The elder Qualls took full advantage of this aptitude, and within a few months had turned over full managing duties to his son, while he concentrated on fulfilling a leadership role outside the farm. It might seem a little unusual, but it was logical, considering his son’s readiness.

“The difference between our farm and a lot of other family farms is that normally the son will take a backseat until father retires, but I’m doing the opposite,” Kenny said. “I’m putting him up front and letting him make all the decisions. I’ve thrown it all on him at once. If he can handle it while I’m here, then he can handle it when I’m gone.

“Plus I can still coach him and help them through the tough decisions. Even though he works here every day, there is a big transition from going from an associate to being the boss. This way he’ll already have had that behind him.”