Ingenuity a valued talent
for North Carolina’s Jerry Wyant
Jerry Wyant of Vale, N.C., is a diversified farmer with a knack for saving money and building what he needs to make his farm more e;cient. He lives on the farm where he was raised, across from two old red barns, on Wyant Road, a country
highway named for his grandmother, who championed to get it
A full-time farmer since 1971, he grows wheat, soybeans, corn,
alfalfa and grass hay, grass seed, and beef cattle.
His success as a crop and livestock farmer has earned Wyant
the honor of being the 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.
Wyant started farming full time on 400 acres, 100 rented acres
and 300 owned. He has expanded to 1,600 acres, of which 900
acres is rented, the rest owned. Last year, his per acre crop yields
were 77 bushels of wheat from 600 acres, 52 bushels of soybeans
from 950 acres, and 110 bushels of corn from 80 acres. He grows
hay on 150 acres and produces 2. 75 tons of alfalfa per acre and
2. 25 tons of grass hay per acre. He grows grass seed on 70 acres,
and sells the seed in 50-pound bags.
Straw has become a major crop from his 600 wheat acres. He
bales straw in 40-pound rectangular bales and produces about
40,000 bales per year. He has saved on labor costs by investing in
a stack wagon and a bale handler to mechanize the moving and
loading of the straw bales.
STRAW AND HAY SALES
Straw from his farm helped stabilize the soil when a new runway
was added to Charlotte’s airport. “We sell straw by the trailer load
and deliver it to landscape businesses within a four-county area,”
he says. “We deliver large loads of hay to our customers, and we
sell small hay loads directly from the farm.”
Each year his 83 cows produce about 75 calves that he sells as
feeder cattle after raising them to 500 to 600 pounds each.
He has about
of grain storage
capacity on his
farm. “We also use
and market up to six months ahead of harvest,” he says. About a
third of the corn he produces is set aside and bagged as deer corn
that is sold from the farm.
He was one of the first farmers in his area to use no-till
planting, and still sees the benefits of conservation tillage for his
soil. “My goal has been to leave the land in better shape than it
was in when I began farming, and to do it without incurring debt.”
Wyant owns a bulldozer, track hoe, motor grader, dirt pan,
and other earthmoving equipment that he uses to clear land
and improve his farm. “We just cleared 22 acres,” he says. “It can
cost $3,000 per acre if you pay for land clearing. We also use our
equipment to build ponds — we built one pond in two weeks.” He
occasionally does land improvement jobs for others, and at some
point says he could set up the earthmoving as a separate business
to further boost total farm income.
Pond construction is part of a five-year plan to add irrigation on
his cropland. Over the years, Wyant has cut timber and cleared
about 200 acres of land that he converted to crop and forage
He owns four tractor-trailers that he uses to haul crops. After
delivering soybeans to ADM at Kershaw, S.C., he backhauls sand to
a cement company at Denver, N.C. The sand hauling, and hauling
soybeans and corn for local farmers, helps to cover costs for his
Wyant has overcome setbacks, among them a severe drought
in 1986. Another was in 2013, when a grain buyer accepted his
wheat, but couldn’t pay for it and later declared bankruptcy.
Jerry Wyant and wife Linda, top, and Jerry Wyant
and Luke Beam, who nominated Jerry for the
Farmer of the Year award.