John McCormick of Georgia
has a varied farm income stream
On his farm near the Ogeechee River in east Georgia, John McCormick has been a leader in using innovative practices, among them global positioning systems, planting soil- building cover crops, and using variable rate nutrient
application and variable rate irrigation.
At his farm near Sylvania, Ga., he double-crops 240 acres to 250
acres and grows crops on a total of 1,040 acres. He rents 340 acres
and owns the rest. He owns a total of 1,020 acres, which includes
some land in woods, ponds, and swamps that is managed to
benefit timber and wildlife.
McCormick’s success as a crop farmer has earned him the honor
of state winner of the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern
Farmer of the Year award. He joins nine other individuals as
finalists for the overall award that will be announced Tuesday, Oct.
18 at the Sunbelt Expo.
His 330 acres of cotton yields 800 pounds of lint per acre for
dryland fields and 1,150 to 1,200 pounds per acre on irrigated
fields. He’s growing corn on 285 acres, mostly for silage, with a
yield of 23 tons to 25 tons per acre. Corn for grain yielded 207
bushels per acre last year.
Peanuts on 250 acres yield 3,200 to 3,300 pounds per acre on
dryland fields and 5,300 pounds on irrigated fields. He grows
soybeans on 390 acres; yields are 33 bushels per acre when
double-cropped after corn silage, and full season beans yield 54
bushels to 55 bushels per acre.
S WITCH TO NARROW ROWS
McCormick improved his corn and soybean yields by switching
from 36-inch rows to 30-inch; he also narrowed peanut rows from
36 to 30 inches. Currently, he’s evaluating the idea of using 30-
inch rows for cotton.
He has improved soil nutrition by using variable rate lime and
fertilizer applications. He says on-farm trials have been a big help
in providing information on which soybean and corn varieties he
plants, and use of guidance systems and variable rate technology
have allowed him to
He uses Zimmatic
products to remotely manage his center pivots and for variable
Conservation tillage and cover crops are important to
McCormick. In 1996, he switched to strip-till planting. He has
grown black oats, large root daikon radish, and ryegrass as cover
crops. Ryegrass isn’t a typical cover crop, he notes, because it is
hard to kill, but he likes its fibrous roots and the organic matter it
adds to the soil.
Corn silage is marketed to a dairy farm, using a formula based
on September corn grain futures prices. He markets his own grain
crops, and relies on production contracts for marketing peanuts.
He’s especially pleased with the Staplcotn cooperative, which sells
his cotton and the pooled cotton of other farmers throughout the
OTHER INCOME POTENTIAL
Planting, spraying and other custom work boosts his farm income,
McCormick says, and there is also potential for generating income
from hunting and fishing. His dedication to conservation can be
seen in the land he has set aside for grassed waterways, wildlife
borders, and riparian zones. Earlier in his farming career, he used
contour farming, terraces, filter strips, and soil drainage.
Though he now mainly farms in Screven County, Ga., he grew
up on a hog and tobacco farm in Bulloch County, Ga. Feeding
hogs was the first farm chore he remembers doing as a child.
His first crop was an acre of tobacco when he was in the ninth
grade. A gilt and a heifer also helped him pay for his University of
After college, McCormick spent nine years working for a
chemical company before he started farming full time. He raised
John Mc Cormick and wife Paula, top, and John McCormick and Ray Hicks, who nominated John for
the Farmer of the Year award.