Beef cattle, turkeys and row crops are major enterprises at scenic Glenmary Farm overlooking the Rapidan River near Rapidan, Va. Robert T. “Tom” Nixon II, who owns this farm, is focused on flexibility in growing and marketing cattle and crops.

For instance, he harvests corn as a cash crop or silage, depending on prices for corn and beef cattle. He’s equally flexible in selling cattle, be they weaned calves, stockers, bred cows or finished cattle from his feedlot.

As a result of his success raising cattle, crops and turkeys, Nixon has been selected as Virginia’s state winner of the 2014 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award. Nixon joins nine other state winners from the Southeast as finalists for the award. The overall winner will be announced Tuesday, Oct. 14 at the Sunbelt Ag Expo farm show in Moultrie, Ga.

A 30-year farmer, Nixon farms about 4,000 acres. He rents most of the land and his family owns 378 acres. “We rent from absentee landowners because land prices are high,” says Nixon.

Though he doesn’t irrigate, his crop yields are good. Per acre yields last year were 175 bushels of grain and 20 tons of silage from 750 acres of corn, 10 tons of silage from 250 acres of sorghum, 50 bushels of soybeans from 1,000 acres, 83 bushels of wheat from 400 acres, 95 bushels of barley from 400 acres and 75 bushels of oats from 50 acres. He also grows hay on 400 acres producing 3.8 tons per acre and has about 1,600 pasture acres.

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“We try to raise about 6,000 tons of corn silage each year, and we harvest about 1,000 tons of high moisture corn to feed in our feedlot,” he says. “Last year, we had high corn yields and good prices, so we sold 50,000 bushels of corn for cash.” He raises less corn silage if he has good supplies of small grain silage. This year, he’s spreading risks by planting forage sorghum.

His 750-head cowherd has 500 fall-calving and 250 spring-calving females. He buys about 2,000 stocker cattle yearly, and more if he has excess grass. He also raises 153,000 turkeys yearly on contract with Cargill.

“We sell home-raised calves in trailer-load lots through the Virginia Quality Assured program,” Nixon explains. “We market stockers in trailer-load lots through a weekly Tel-O-Auction sale sponsored by the Virginia Cattlemen’s Association. Buyers in Pennsylvania and Iowa often purchase these cattle. We sell finished cattle on yield and grade or to a packer in Maryland as source and age verified cattle.”

His feedlot holds 1,000 head. He feeds out his own cattle and provides custom feeding for other cattle owners. Nixon has operated the Culpepper Beef Cattle Improvement Association Bull Test Station for 18 years. He feeds about 100 bulls for a 112-day test period.

Heifer development is important, for rebuilding his herd and for selling bred heifers to local and out-of-state producers.

Nixon has built a young, productive cowherd. He sells about 15% of his cows as bred females. “I’d rather sell a bred cow than a cull cow,” adds Nixon. “I like to move them out when they’re still productive. This year, with cattle prices high, we may sell more cows.” Nixon also uses social media to help market his cattle.