Scott Travis has joined nine other state winners as finalists for the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award.

After years of putting an emphasis on livestock, Travis, of Cox’s Creek, Ky., now operates a diversified farm that produces burley tobacco, corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, straw and pumpkins.

As a result of his success as a diversified crop farmer, Travis has been selected as the Kentucky winner of the 2013 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award.

Travis 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.

Travis was previously named the Kentucky Farmer of the Year in 2007. Since then, he has almost doubled the amount of land he farms.

A farmer for 28 years, Travis currently farms 3,519 acres, with 2,557 acres of rented land and 962 acres of owned land. He farms this land with the help of family members and only one full-time employee.

His yields last year included tobacco on 12 acres producing 2,404 pounds per acre, corn on 1,056 acres yielding 106 bushels per acre, full-season soybeans on 1,912 acres yielding 42 bushels per acre, double-cropped soybeans on 146 acres yielding 38 bushels per acre, wheat on 146 acres yielding 40 bushels per acre and hay on 14 acres producing four tons per acre.

Drought depressed his corn yields last year, but high grain prices made 2012 his best year of farming.

Careful research helps inform his marketing decisions. Travis checks weather, exports and prices daily. As prices reach acceptable levels, he consults with his grain buyer, and takes positions in the futures markets.

With the help of technical and fundamental price analysis, he uses forward contracting to get higher prices. During late spring and early fall, he uses options contracts to protect against price swings. He often sells his grain crops to Consolidated Grain or to local farmers.

He sells his tobacco on open markets in Danville and Springfield, Ky. “I haven’t contracted tobacco since 2011,” he adds.

“We grow pumpkins and winter squash or cushaw on four acres,” he says. “We grow additional pumpkins that we give away. I sell my pumpkins, gourds, corn shocks and similar products from a roadside stand across from an elementary school. We sell these on the ‘honor system’ and trust our customers to pay the right amounts.”