The Jack Farm Classroom

Technology Drives Decisions At The Jeremy Jack Farm

MidAmerica Farmer Grower

(First part in a two-part series)

   Silent Shade Planting Company is more than a farm. While there’s all the work that goes along with farming, the focus is on so many areas – such as excellence, efficiency, education, safety, outreach – that it’s a working classroom.
   Jeremy Jack grew up on the family farm. He, his sister, Stacie Koger, and brother, Gregory Jack, all went through high school and college working on the farm. After college, Stacie worked at an accounting firm; Gregory went to south Florida to work in the golf course industry, and Jeremy came back to the farm. However, first, he did a brief stent in D.C. working for Senator Thad Cochran. Jeremy graduated high school in 2001 and then graduated from Mississippi State in 2006 with an undergrad degree in agricultural economics then a master’s in agribusiness.
   “After college I wanted to work in Washington DC. My plan was to work there for two to five years, and then come back to the farm; but my father came down with thyroid cancer and it was either come back now or there won’t be a farm. So I decided that’s what I really wanted to do. I stayed four months in Washington and I really enjoyed my time there. Then I came back, started farming, I joined the operation full time in 2007.”

 Jeremy Jack tells about the family farm, Silent Shade Planting Company, and how the “working classroom” 
 focuses on excellence, efficiency, education, safety, outreach.

 Photo by John LaRose, Jr.

   Two years later Stacie returned to the farm, and three years later Jeremy’s wife, Elizabeth joined him there. His brother-in-law, Dr. Trey Koger also has come back to the farm. His father, Willard Jack, has been cancer free seven years now.
   The farm was only 2,700 acres when he returned in 2007.
   “We are currently at 8,500 acres, we've had a lot of great opportunities to work with great people and to pick up more land and it's been very good for the operation and we really, really have enjoyed it,” he said.
   “We grow cotton, corn, soybeans, rice and wheat. We grow wheat and then move on dryland acres, and then our acres that aren’t fully irrigated really well, that have drainage issues, we move dirt on them in the summertime. We grow rice and soybeans in a rotation, grow corn and cotton in a rotation and then sometimes we grow corn and soybeans in a rotation depending on the markets.”
   He had 1,800 acres of corn this year, down from last year’s 3,000 acres. Next year he'll check the direction of the market to determine his corn acreage, but corn will be in the mix.
   “It’s a good fit for our operation and rotation,” he said. “It also was a good year for our corn crop. We pulled our acres back to some of our stronger fields. It was a very tough spring. We planted a lot of our corn crop a little bit later than normal, stands were a little sketchy in spots; but overall we’re very pleased with the crop we had. It was the second highest farm average that we’ve had with some of the highest yields that we've ever had in individual fields.
   “We also had a great soybean crop, probably the best average we’ve ever had on soybeans across the farm,” Jack said. “Cotton, we're still picking but it looks like it’s going to be a record crop for us on our cotton yield. The rice was just a fair crop this year.”
He expects the soybean average to run around 65 bushels over 3,500 acres. While still measuring bins, he expects the corn to be around 205 to 210 bu/a.
   “This is all irrigated land, and when we do our averages we consider only the averages that we get paid for.”
   Tillage is generally minimum till, however he also uses a one-trip plow that Bingham Brothers used.
   “We one-trip a lot of our acres either every year or every other year. After cotton we try to run that one-trip plow to make sure we bust up the hard pan, and, on our heavier ground, we row it up to get our beans out of the moisture and out of the flooding spots. We use a roll a cone hipper to hip up all of our ground every year. The roll a cone hipper does a really good job on heavy ground and on sandy ground. It's a very economic tool to use and does a phenomenal job pulling a row up. We can actually go into our rice fields, after we harvest the rice we’ll knock down the levees, we’ll run a chain disk, burn the rice field off and hip it up; and if we can't burn the rice field we’ll still go right through the stubble and burn it and have a nice row.”
   Rice is rotated out, sometimes two, sometimes one year, depending on the market. The Jack family tries to plan the acreage so they'll have all the rice on one farm, all the corn on one farm, all the soybeans on one farm. That way, when they go to a farm they can work there all day; there’s no driving from farm to farm.
   Jack is trying to update the old center pivots, but he still uses some of them. He finds them very inefficient, a bit of a pain, and they need to be run a lot.
   “We still have some drainage issues on those farms so we’re moving a lot of dirt on the farm every year to help with the drainage, help erosion and water quality issues,” he explained.
   “With the furrow irrigation, we use Phaucet on 100 percent of the acres. We’re using side inlet on our rice, we’ve used some intermittent management to help with water savings, he said.
   Jack learned something new about efficiency this year. Using a 20-foot rice planter and a 40-foot bean planter, both traveling the same speed, he found he was getting more acres out of his rice planter than his bean planter in one day.
   “That’s because the bean planter was constantly turning around in a small field, the rice planter was in a big field, so we’re trying to set up our farms to where the drivers don’t have to turn around much.”
   He compared it to UPS whose leaders decided they can save time by not making left turns; they try to turn right every time they can.
   “It’s the same with the planter,” Jack said. “If we can quit turning around and keep the planters going we can plant more in a day, so we use the technology to set up the farm where we can go from one field to the next, to the next, to the next field without having to stop and change varieties, change seeding rates or anything like that.”
   Jack uses variable rate for all the P&K and lime, and has done so for as long as he remembers. He has also used variable rate on corn seed across 100 percent of his acres for about two years, after experimenting with that for about 5 years.
   “We’ve been using variable rate not only on the ground machines and planters but also with our airplane which we do variable rate P&K, nitrogen and variable rate liquid out of an airplane, whether it be plant growth regulators or defoliation on our cotton. We’re really pushing the limits on what we can utilize. We try to variable rate everything that we have.”
   Seed count depends on the variety, but that ranges from 30,000 to 34,000 seeds per acre. With some varieties he can even drop to 25,000 to 36,000.
   He considers soil type and variety when determining the number of seeds. If that variety can stand going up and down and if it's irrigated or not irrigated, if it’s inside a pivot or outside are also considerations.
   He’s dedicated to Pioneer for corn and soybean seed and is a big fan of the Pioneer 2088 and 2089, which really has done well for him.
   “They’re really versatile, you can put them on a lot of acreage and they’ll do well on a lot of farms. We also use 1739, which gave us a really good year. 1739 is more of the racehorse for us, but 2088 and 2089 have been a workhorse, racehorse combination.”
   Those varieties can yield a 210 to 220 bushel average, right at his target yield. To do that some fields have to yield 260 to 270.
   “We’ve been successful in doing that with some of our varieties on some of our fields. It gets difficult replicating that across the farm, but you can do it with the right management practices,” he said. “The right environment helps too.”
   Jack has been using the Pioneer Y series soybean varieties in past years.
   “We’ve been using the Pioneer Y82s and the 95Y01s,” he added. “We’ve had a lot of luck with them. We’re moving into the Pioneer Ts. We’ve had some 49T80s, we had a 50T64 that did really well for us this year. The new varieties, I’m getting them confused with the old ones, but some of the new T varieties have done very well for us this year, they performed very strong. We had a 93Y92 that did really, really well for us; it was a late Group III.”
   Jack has high praise for the staff of Pioneer.
   “If there’s any questions that we have they’re usually on our farm either that day or the next day. They do a wonderful job of support, they’re easy to work with; any questions we have they’re going to answer or find someone that does answer or they’re going to work with us to solve the problems that we are having. So we’re very excited with them. We do a lot of plot work with them, their impact plots. They come out, they plant the plot, walk through it all year, see how the different varieties are doing; they come back and harvest it and they’re very professional. We have no troubles with them at all,” he said.
   Syngenta is his crop protection company. Jack likes their portfolio which fits a lot of his needs. He orders 80 percent of his needs through Syngenta.  However, they don’t have a chemical for every need or crop protection for every need.
   “Syngenta has a great sales force and great tech service and they work really well with us; their portfolio offers a lot of what we need.”
   For cotton, rice, corn, soybeans and wheat, Syngenta offers 80 percent of their chemical needs, and Jack is very pleased with that. ∆
   Note: The second part of The Jack Farm will be published in next week’s issue.
   BETTY VALLE GEGG-NAEGER: Senior Staff Writer, MidAmerica Farmer Grower
MidAmerica Farm Publications, Inc
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