Statesboro Magazine & Blanchard Equipment
2015 Bulloch County Young Farmers
There are now 3.2 million farmers operating 2.1 million farms on 914.5 million acres of farmland across the United States, according to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, the latest release by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
According to the same census, in Bulloch County there are 544 farmers with 180,275 acres under cultivation, with the greatest percentages of crops being produced in cotton, peanuts, soybeans and hay. Broilers and other meat-type chickens top the livestock inventory list with 378,086. Cattle and Calves are counted at 8,564.
The average age of the principal farm owner is 61.5, but that number is rapidly falling as the latest crop of young farmers enters the field. Bulloch County is extraordinary in the agriculture industry in Georgia for the number of young farmers who have emerged to take on the old challenges in new and innovative ways.
The Bulloch County Young Farmers group, under the administration of the Georgia Farm Bureau Young Farmers, has reemerged with membership growing, continuing the legacy of the family farm.
These young farmers are bringing family farms into the digital age with the latest in agricultural technology designed to produce the greatest yields in cultivation and in animal husbandry.
Glenn Family Farms
Henry Mikell Rd. Hwy 24 East
This is the where my granddaddy, Marvin Peed, lived, raised his family and grew his crops. He lived and farmed here his whole life and I have lived here my whole life and now am fortunate enough to farm the same dirt he did for so long.
I’ve been involved with farming for about eight years. I began doing odd and end jobs around the shop. A lot of people over the years have taken their time to teach me and help me. Still with the help and guidance of others, I planted the first crops of my own about four years ago. The ladies at the FSA office were very helpful in making it happen.
My dad, Brian Glenn, has helped me in so many ways from financial backing to introducing me to land owners in the area and much more. I work for Mr. Greg Sikes, Sikes Farms. He has taught me so much about farming, the business and management. He has helped make the dream of farming for myself a reality.
Between my granddaddy’s farm and the old Olliff Farm that I lease, I personally tend 380 acres. Sikes Farm tends 6,000 acres. I plant corn, peanuts and cotton. In addition, Sikes Farms also plants soybeans and wheat.
Glenn Family Farms has about 60 cows.
Farming with GPS has made planting, spraying and harvesting much more efficient. It not only saves time but also money, both of which are very valuable in this business.
David & Jamie Cromley
270 Rushing Road
I grew up in a farm family and have been involved with farming all my life. As soon as I was old enough my dad, Chap Cromley had me tagging cows and bailing hay. Dad taught me how to work hard and respect the land and the animals. We farm with my uncle Hal Cromley and my first cousin Colby. We are the sixth generation of Cromleys to farm in Bulloch County.
Being a good steward of the land and the animals is critical. We employ agricultural technologies so that we can be more efficient with our resources.
We use irrigation technology for our dryer fields. As part of the Ogeechee River Soil & Water Conservation District, we work to make sure each acre of land is used in accordance to its capabilities and treated according to its needs. For the last two years we have used soil moisture probes that are buried in fields so we know the moisture in any zone.
We use precision Ag technologies: GPS, satellites, software – which tell us everything we want to know – topography, moisture levels, pH, crop yield. We employ similar measures in tracking our herd.
We have about 350 brood cows. For the first time since the 1970s, this past fall we started inseminating the cows first instead of breeding them with bulls. With insemination we can breed our cows to some of the best bulls in the country. If a cow doesn’t take, then we can breed them with a bull here. The insemination has a good success rate. We’re working with prime genetics. We can keep up with good meat traits and good breeding traits for good quality and yield in the herd.
I love watching things grow. It strengthens my faith in the Lord when I realize there is fruit to our labor. It is all I have ever wanted to do.
Ryne & Heather Brannen
Brannen Family Farms
5595 Brannen Farm Road East
I have been farming full time for four years. I work with my dad, Jackie Brannen and my brother Jamie Brannen.
Ever since I can remember it is all I have ever wanted to do. It’s what I was made for. I tried a couple of other things and interviewed for several other jobs after graduating from college, but I felt like this was where God wanted me to be and I still feel that way.
Together we have 4,000 acres under cultivation with cotton and peanuts as our crops.
We employ some of the latest farming techniques including GPS guidance and application control, precision soil sampling, drone mapping of fields, a yield monitor on our cotton picker, and farm management software.
The greatest challenge is the cost of everything. Arming 4,000 acres requires tremendous investment every year. We literally bet our farm every year that it will rain when we need it t and the market will cooperate. We have been successful so far, but all it takes is one bad year to wipe it all out. That never gets easier.
We work hard and it feels good to see something that you worked for come together. I feel humble and blessed to still be doing this. We have come a long way over the past four years with the technology and equipment upgrades, but I am truly humbles by our excellent yields from all our crops. I can’t really be proud of that. God did it. All we did was plant seeds and trust in Him.
Speer & Brittany Brannen
Hawkshaw Poultry Farms
I’ve been farming for 20 years. I started helping my dad when I was eight. I am now 29 years old.
Dad’s farm is the Double B Ranch & Poultry, he is John Emery Brannen. My brothers also farm, Jeb and Chase Brannen.
I own two chicken houses in association with Claxton Poultry, and I have been approved for two more. Hawkshaw has 54,000 chickens. Double B has six chicken houses with 161,000 chickens and 1,200 beef cattle.
We also have 315 acres of corn and 1,000 acres of pasture land for Dad’s cattle.
One of the latest farming techniques to benefit us is environmental controls in the chicken houses. Heating and cooling a broiler house is extremely important from both a performance and economic standpoint. It is crucial that the temperature be maintained. Ventilation delivers fresh air and removes the excess heat, moisture and ammonia.
My greatest challenge is time management. In juggling church, family, my personal farm, and the family farm, it is hard to be efficient in each area. Even though it is hard at times, through prayer, faith, and hard work, the Lord always works it out and provides.
I am the fifth generation to farm our family land. It is special to think that I am farming and providing for my family in the same ways that my great, great grandfather did. It is such a blessing to be able to see the Lord’s hand at work on a daily basis.
Will & Mary Beth Ball
W. W. Ball Farms
450 Friendship Church Road
I have been farming five years fulltime and 13 years part time. I farm with my father Warren Ball and my brother Mitchell Ball. Tab Akins is our farm manager.
We have 300 acres under cultivation in corn, peanuts, rye, millet and hay. We have 200 cows/beef cattle.
I was born and raised on our family farm and have never thought of doing anything else. I’ve always loved the outdoors and being able to see our crops and livestock grow from year to year is very gratifying. It is not really work when you do what you love and I have enjoyed watching our farm grow and become a productive business.
I feel fortunate to be able to work with my Dad and brother on the farm my Dad started in 1982. I love the fact that we are a tight knit family that loves working together. I am also very proud of the quality of our cowherd and the fact we are now working at full capacity.
The latest farming techniques we have started using is green wrapping hay or haylage. This technique has made it easier to get hay harvested in a timely manner between rain events because you don’t have to let it dry out as long. It also stores longer and keeps vital nutrients longer than dry hay. Even though it is not a new technology, irrigation is something we have recently implemented. This will allow us to have enough hay to harvest during dry, hot summers.