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July 27, 2009   Email to Friend 

OYFF: Corn Crop Encouraging To Smith Family
Darryal Ray

Matthew and Stacey Smith with sons Colby (10) and Micheal (7).
Sponsored each year by the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Outstanding Young Farm Family Awards Program recognizes young farmers between the ages of 17 and 35 who do an outstanding job in farm, home and community activities. Division winners representing 11 commodities were selected in February. Of those, six finalists will compete for the title of overall Outstanding Young Farm Family for 2009. The winner, who will be named at the Federation's 88th Annual Meeting in December, will receive a John Deere Gator, courtesy of the Federal Land Bank of Alabama, $500 cash from Dodge, the use of a new vehicle and other prizes and will go on to compete at the national level for a new Dodge Ram 3500. This month, Neighbors profiles seven commodity division winners. Look for features on the six finalists in the coming months.

Matthew Smith was standing in a cornfield, and seeing something he liked -- ears. For it wasn't that long ago (2007 to be exact), that a nightmare drought had so devastated his corn crop that Smith was almost wishing he had nothing but cotton.

But 2009 is another year, and although cotton prices have tumbled, the 33-year-old Calhoun County farmer says things have improved considerably. This year he planted 200 acres in cotton, 250 acres in corn, another 150 in wheat and 250 in soybeans.

"Our wheat crop did pretty good," he was saying in late June. "We're still harvesting, but we're averaging 65 to 85 bushels per acre on our wheat. The prices still look decent. They're not as good as they were a month ago, but I feel like they're going to come back some."

But it's corn -- the crop that caused him such misery in 2007 -- that he finds most encouraging today. "The corn got a good start, and we're right in the window of making a good crop," said Matthew, who along with wife Stacey and sons Colby (10) and Micheal (7) won the Wheat & Feed Grain Division. "Right now, it's putting on ears and we're right here at the door where, if we can get some rain, we'll have the potential of making a really good corn crop."

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