Varied ventures add value
for Tennessee’s James Haskew
On Fiery Gizzard Road near South Pittsburg, Tenn., James Haskew has built a successful farm, growing corn, wheat, soybeans, hay, and haylage. An e;cient producer, he adds value to his crops by operating a feed mill, and adds to his
farm income by raising beef cattle.
Haskew’s success as a row crop and beef cattle producer has
earned him the state winner title in the annual Swisher Sweets/
Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year judging. He joins
nine other individuals as finalists for the overall award that will be
announced Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Sunbelt Expo.
A farmer for 35 years, Haskew’s operation has 1,625 acres, of
which 1,150 acres is rented and 475 acres owned. Last year, his
per acre yields were 168.48 bushels of corn from 492 acres, 47.08
bushels of soybeans from 630 acres, 60. 7 bushels of wheat from
138 acres, 4. 75 tons of wheat haylage from 45 acres, and 2. 7 tons
of grass and clover hay from 285 acres. He also has 170 acres of
pasture where he grazes his cattle.
A feed mill adds value to his crops. “We process 30 percent of
our corn into various feeds,” says Haskew. “We also bag quality
whole corn.” Sales of the value-added feed have been a big help in
keeping his overall farm profitable. He sells his Fiery Gizzard brand
feeds in five stores and to 70 individual customers. He started the
feed business in 1998 with sales of 3,000 bushels and, in 2015,
sales reached 21,000 bushels.
He keeps at least 100 cows in his beef herd. The cows have
produced at least a 92 percent calf crop during the past five years.
The average weaning weight is about 500 pounds. He sells most
of his calves as feeder calves through a graded feeder calf sale,
and backgrounds most of the rest. He also raises replacement
heifers, and always keeps a group of heifers on feed. He sells
Angus bulls to small beef producers.
INSURANCE VALUABLE TOOL
Haskew uses a combination of minimum tillage and no-till
planting. He spreads risk by planting corn hybrids and soybean
dates. He says
has helped him
losses during four years since 1997.
Keeping accurate records and knowing his production costs
are keys to helping Haskew market his crops for profitable prices.
He sells corn in 5,000 bushel increments and soybeans in 1,000
bushel batches. Local end users buy his corn and soybeans and
typically o;er prices well above national levels.
Since much of the land he farms is rented, he has worked to
develop good relationships with landowners, which have stood
the test of time. Haskew has improved his farm management skills
by taking part in the University of Tennessee MANAGE program,
and has also been a participant in the Farm Business Analysis
Program available from Tennessee Farm Bureau.
Typically, he uses forward pricing on about 40 percent to 50
percent of the corn he produces, and stores the remaining corn on
his farm. He uses forward pricing to cover out-of-pocket expenses.
“Soybeans are marketed with cash forward contracts, basis
contracts, and storage,” he says. “About 40 percent of the soybeans
are marketed on cash forward contracts, 50 percent on basis
contracts, and the remaining 10 percent are stored on-farm.” He
markets wheat to provide cash flow during the middle of the crop
year, and uses a portion of the wheat in his Fiery Gizzard Scratch
MOS T VALUABLE RESOURCE
In the years ahead, Haskew plans to increase his use of precision
farming practices, such as grid-based soil sampling, auto-steer,
and variable rate seed planting.
He started farming at age 16, working for a local farmer, and
began farming on his own after he graduated from high school
James Haskew and wife Shannon, top, and James
Haskew and Dallas Manning, who nominated
James for the Farmer of the Year award.