Corn and soybeans make high yields for Andy Gill of McGehee, Ark. He farms productive flat bottomlands in the Arkansas Delta, close to where the Arkansas River flows into the Mississippi River.

Using furrow irrigation, Gill’s yields are impressive. Last year, he produced 220 bushels of corn per acre from 1,972 acres and 82 bushels of soybeans per acre from 1,228 acres. His overall farm operation consists of about 3,200 acres, of which 2,700 acres are rented and 500 acres are owned.

As a result of his success in row crop farming, Gill has been selected as the 2014 Arkansas state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. Gill joins nine other state winners from the Southeast as finalists for the award. The overall winner will be announced on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga.

Gill has been a farmer for 34 years. He began farming as a youngster. He worked for his dad, and then farmed for his uncles while in high school. “Farming has always been a way of life for us,” says Gill. “I am an eighth generation farmer.” He says his family traces its history to James Gill who began farming in 1786 after emigrating from Ireland.

“I obtained financing through the Farmer’s Home Administration,” Gill recalls. “Working with limited funds in those days makes me appreciate where we are today.”

One of his uncles was instrumental in getting Gill into farming full time. The uncle helped Gill lease 265 acres to give him his start. The same uncle also encouraged Gill to invest in a cotton gin. Gill served for a time as president of the gin. He and fellow stockholders sold the ginning business for a profit several years ago when they transitioned away from cotton in favor of grain.

Gill looks back fondly on his involvement in cotton ginning. The gin showed him how a business should be professionally managed. It also allowed him to meet other farmers and landowners.

To market his corn and beans, he relies heavily on the advice of a marketing advisor. “We hedge our crops through the futures market, and we deliver them to the locations that give us the best basis,” says Gill. He delivers his crops in an area from 30 miles north of his farm to about 30 miles south of it. “We have three to four locations where we can deliver our crops,” he says.

When there were long lines at grain elevators, he has been able to use grain bags to hold harvested grain in the field until he could deliver the crop to market.