Then And Now

Perry Galloway, born and raised in Gregory, Ark., began by farming
 800 acres with a tractor, a little fuel and some wheat seed and today
 farms about 8,000 acres. 

 Photo by John LaRose

Galloway Farm In Arkansas Grows Along With Crops

Perry Galloway, Gregory, Arkansas, is one of 15 corn producers, researchers and crop consultants making presentations at the 19th Annual National Conservation Systems, Southern Corn & Soybean Conference.

MidAmerica Farmer Grower

(Part One Of A Two-Part Series)
   More than crops has been growing on the Perry Galloway farm in recent years. Galloway, 48, has acquired both his mother’s and his father’s family farm and upgraded all of it well beyond the mid-1800s patents the two families secured.
   Born and raised in Gregory, Ark., Galloway’s family is deep rooted in agriculture, with the east side of the farm originally Eldridge’s land and the west side Gregory land.
   “I actually own most of this now as I bought it from family members, but I just own an interest in Gregory Farm, Inc.,” he explained.
   Farming is in his blood, as he was driving a combine at age six, just as early as he could turn a steering wheel. “That was because I wanted to, it wasn’t because the family demanded it,” he said. “I wanted to do it. I’ve always loved it.”
   He actually grew up in Arkansas, then the family moved to Mississippi. “I was in third grade in 1974 when we moved to Yazoo City. I stayed down there, graduated high school, went to Old Miss, graduated there in 1989 and worked in the cotton business for about a year with my dad, WP Galloway; then I moved back to the family farm in Arkansas, and started farming about 800 acres. My father had a large farm in Mississippi and I helped him some down there, but he wasn’t active on the farm, he was more of a commodities trader.”
   Perry started farming those 800 acres basically with nothing but one tractor, a little bit of fuel and some wheat seed for his first crop of wheat. He was 22 then and no one in his family wanted him to do it.
   “Today, I have about 8,000 acres. Personally I own  about 2,000 acres of it and rent the rest. I planted wheat in the fall of 1989. At some point, probably around 1991, I started raising a lot of cotton. This whole farm was originally in cotton so I have been 100 percent cotton most of my farming career.”
   His best year came somewhere around 2008 to 2010 when he had about 2,500 acres in cotton, using minimum till, his first efforts with that practice. He still uses some beds that were in cotton as early as 2001, but corn is growing on them this year.
   “We just go in and do parabolic tillage, reshape them and plant them,” he explained. “I don’t have a lot of that anymore, but I still have a few fields. The cotton market started dropping probably about 2008 and I began transitioning out of cotton. That was high management cotton, so I was used to the high management. We switched to corn, using the same management practices in the field every day.
   “I’m not a golfer, not married and with no children; so naturally I spent my time on the farm and we were making good corn, 225 bushel corn. For switching from cotton to corn, that’s not too bad.”
   Then, in 2010, Pioneer encouraged him to enter a yield contest. He halfheartedly said O.K., not really sold on the idea, but it was his friend, the field rep, Jason Rudick, who asked him because he needed the entries. So, Galloway just planted the corn like he normally did and made 283 bushels on irrigated land. “I thought that was pretty good,” he said. He irrigates with 32 center pivots on his land, but has other types of irrigation, a drip system for one.
   “I had three entries and I won first and second in the state,” he boasts. “I wasn’t even trying, but I became hooked on the competitive side of it. That was 2010 and I have trophies in my office. So then Arkansas had this ‘Go for the Green’ deal for soybeans, so I entered that. The first year I made 89 bushels and won $10,000! It was an Asgrow variety, 94Y40.
   “Then in the corn and soybeans I placed in the top three on the state level,” Galloway continued. “This past year on the soybean I won my region, irrigated, with Pioneer 47T36s that made 99.67 bushels; I knew they were good, but I didn’t think they were that good. I missed the 100 bushel deal by less than a bushel, just a few tenths.”
   Galloway uses Pioneer for soybean seed as well as corn. “I get a lot of support from them. They are just a phone call away. I’m in regular contact with their territory manager Jason Rudick, and product agronomist Roger Gipson. I do all the IMPACT (Intensive Managed Advancement Characterization Trials), I do a PKP (Product Knowledge Plot). Those are the new varieties in corn and soybean that have not been released. IMPACT usually has 60 different varieties including up and coming ones before release.”
   He is now in his second year of raising sorghum, with results about the same as last year. He picked up some pointers from a friend, Steve Albract out in west Texas; Steve and two other friends, Randy Dowdy and David Hula, are really known for corn, but Steve also grows good milo.
   “I was talking to him and mentioned this milo deal here in Arkansas, how we grow milo and he told me a simple plan which basically is to triple my fertilizer, double my seeding rate, put fungicide on it multiple times, and keep the insects off of it,” Galloway said. “I did that and last year there was a lot of rain during the milo season so even though I was entered into the Farm Growers Association as an irrigated grower, since I never irrigated, I qualified for non irrigated and I set the state record for non-irrigated milo. Actually for a short period of time, I had the state record for irrigated and non-irrigated, at 179 bushels, then a friend of mine here had truly irrigated and he made 183 on sorghum.”
   Galloway’s competitive spirit has surged to the forefront, although he didn’t think he had such a spirit.
   “I guess I do, I don’t feel like I do but I guess on this kind of thing I do. I don’t mind losing to people I know and respect, but if somebody just comes up and beats me that I don’t know, I want to figure out who it is and what happened.”
   His cropping endeavors have run the gamut, from soybeans, wheat, and cotton, then corn about the mid ‘90s. At that point the farm was transitioned into 100 percent cotton for 5, 6 or 7 years. However, then he veered more to cotton, corn, and maybe a few soybeans and eventually he made the shift away from cotton.
   “I haven’t raised cotton in four years. We went from 2,500 acres of cotton to none after the 2011 crop,” he said. His 8,000 acres today are split into 1,800 acres of corn, probably 3,500-3,700 acres of soybeans, about 500 acres of rice, 1,750 acres of wheat, with about 1,500 acres of milo.
   “We plant a lot of milo on dryland because the dryland beans were not working on the real sandy soil.” Galloway explained. “We went to milo last year and that’s easier to manage too. If you have milo and corn, which are both grass drives, you can use the same herbicides and practices. When you start planting soybeans next to corn, then you have to worry about treating the soybeans and treating the corn, and be concerned about drifting, maybe different types of irrigation schedules, so it was becoming a hassel and it was not paying off. That’s why it’s milo in these corners.”
   He doesn’t have a favorite crop, but enjoys growing them all, although the corn is a challenge, as he seems to have hit a plateau in the high 200s.
   One field Galloway left in fallow because he wanted to level it. While he rents from people and improves their property, he finds he has to draw the line sometimes. Also, while Galloway has his own land leveling equipment, he finds it’s a necessary evil.
   “I still have one set of dirt pans but I find it easier to pay somebody to come in with a fleet of equipment and get it done so I can farm it, instead of tying up one or two of my tractors with my employees,” he said.
   He was raising wheat when Pioneer asked him to do a PKP plant with 10 or 12 of their varieties in it.
   “I said sure. So I planted the seed and when it was harvested they came out and did a yield check. I didn’t have yield monitors at the time and they came out with theirs and it registered some 90 and 100 bushel wheat,” he explained. “I was sure there was no way we could do that down here, everybody around here is happy with 60. So then I decided to try for a higher yield in wheat and we did it. The farm averaged 88-92 for the last five years except for this last year when we were way off. I was disappointed but we had a good run, and that’s the way it goes. It was all weather related, it wasn’t anything we did. One time this year, we were set up for best wheat crop ever, but we had so much rain in May, and scab set in; we treated with fungicide but we still had issues. I’m a member of the 100-bushel wheat club for three out of the last four years. This will be one year that I didn’t make it.”
   He is also trying for the 100 bushel club in beans. His recent yield of 99.6 was way up there.
   “Our double crop yields on our beans have been a real good combination with 90 bushel wheat followed by 60-70 bushel irrigated soybeans,” he said. “I don’t know of any other combination that generates that much.”
   He cites timeliness as one of his best management practices, although he finds everything is important, from planting date, irrigation scheduling, and all the pesticide applications.
   “If a farmer pays a consultant and the consultant makes a recommendation he expects it to be carried out within 48 hours,” Galloway said. “Some will sit around for a week or 10 days before they get it done; and by that time the problem has not gotten better and the damage is done.
   “If we’re scheduled to irrigate, we’re going to irrigate. I don’t care if there’s a 70 percent chance of rain that afternoon or not, we’re going to irrigate and then if it rains we can always turn the pumps off.” ∆
   BETTY VALLE GEGG-NAEGER: Senior Staff Writer, MidAmerica Farmer Grower
   (Continued next week)
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