The family of Joey McCorkle of Tyronza has been named the Poinsett County Farm Family of the Year.
According to information provided by the Poinsett County Cooperative Extension Agency, the family consists of Joey and wife Lorrie, son J.P. McCorkle and wife Taylor, daughter Madison Gean and husband Cameron, and daughter Keegan.
J&L Farms, Partnership (PTR), operated by Joey and Lorrie McCorkle grows five major crops on 5,515 acres as follows:
Soybeans, on 3,100 irrigated acres
Rice, on 1,500 irrigated acres
Corn, on 605 irrigated acres
Wheat, on 410 irrigated acres
Milo, on 310 irrigated acres
In addition, J.P. and Taylor McCorkle farm another 3,000 acres as M&S Farms, PTR, as do Madison and Cameron Gean as McCorkle PTR. “We all work together to assure the long term viability of the McCorkle Family operation,” said Joey McCorkle.
J&L Farms, PTR has been in operation for 35 years. Joey McCorkle himself is a fourth-generation farmer. “My grandfather (Press McCorkle) farmed 1,000 with my dad (Larry McCorkle) who increased the farming operation to 2,500 acres,” he said. “I have worked on the family farm since I was 13 years old.”
McCorkle noted the great importance of agriculture both to rural America and his family. “And I wanted to continue the tradition in providing food to feed the world population,” he said. “Once I graduated in 1984, I continued to work with my father until 1986 when I become a partner.”
McCorkle said his father retired a few years later, leaving him and Lorrie to take over the family farm. Over the years, “with the help of great landlords” and the purchase of farmland, Joey and Lorrie McCorkle continued to increase the family acres in preparation for the fifth and sixth generations coming up. As a grandfather, Joey said he recognizes the importance of seeing his son and grandsons take over the family farm and continuing the tradition.
McCorkle handles all marketing decisions with the help of son J.P. “We have a very good relationship with our grain merchandisers” he said. “We incorporate multiple programs, and with the help of our input dealers, are able to pinpoint our input cost per acre.”
“My goal is to have 50 to 70 percent of all crops booked prior to harvest,” McCorkle said, “while utilizing our grain bin storage to achieve additional higher prices.” Installed scales at the farm’s office office helps provide an accurate picture of the amount of bushels to facilitate contracting of any unhedged crops.
“We have a detailed system that allows us to keep track of each specific farm, the exact amount of bushels, in what bin and from what field it was harvested,” he said. “Also, the scales allow us to know an exact harvested green field yield.” The system enables a better understanding of yield results on each seed variety, allowing determination of which seed variety works best for each specific field.
The main goals on J&L Farms are to be cost effective, feed an increasing world population, and to adopt new innovative practices and technology early. “Being able to be early adopters have enabled us to take advantage of new products during their research phase,” McCorkle said.
The farm has also implemented the model of doing more with less people. “We have a great crew of employees who treat our farm like their own and do whatever it takes to help us,” McCorkle said. “Also, we have found ways to cut expenses while still achieving higher yields. We have worked with our scouts and input dealers to implement cost-effective irrigation practices.”
Major problems connected to the McCorkle operation over the past years have been grain bin storage and insect control. To address storage issues, J&L Farms expanded from an initial 150,000 bushels of grain bin storage over the last 10 years. Currently, we utilize 1.3 million bushels of storage availability,” McCorkle said, “which has given us opportunities to achieve better prices that would have otherwise been missed.” The operation has also incorporated a commercial flow dryer to save time and energy costs. “Due to potential long lines at grain elevators and storms,” McCorkle said, “we are able to focus more time towards harvesting instead of down time waiting.”
To help with insect control, the farm is doing research with SMR foliar feeding and insect repellent. Foliar feeding puts plant nutrients directly onto the plant leaves – foliage – instead of into the soil. “We see the benefits with research and development,” McCorkle said, “and this will be a key step in being able to treat our own seed with the research findings for 2022.”
Two improvements J&L Farms plans to use going forward are planting row rice and utilizing its own seed treatment. “Row rice is a fairly new concept in Arkansas,” McCorkle noted. “However, based on discussion with local farmers, results have been positive.” Row rice benefits include cost saving potential for land preparation on rotating crops, along with allowing further optimization of flood-irrigated management practices.
The current 2021 production year will be the first time the operation will utilize its own seed treater. McCorkle explained that a seed treater treats the seed with insecticides, fungicides and other agricultural chemicals deemed to be needed before the seeds are planted. “Based on our analysis, the system will be paid for in three years based on cost savings,” McCorkle said. “We can ensure we have the right blends of insecticides, fungicides and such to meet our farms demands, based on different soil types and weather conditions, at lower costs.”
McCorkle said the use of its own seed treater is about half as expensive as having the seeds treated commercially.
In addition, for the past two years J&L Farms has implemented Pipe Planner for its irrigation needs in order to help with conservation, cost of soybean production and reducing the farm’s pollution. Pipe Planner is a free, web-based tool used to create efficient hole designs for polypipe irrigation. Pipe Planner helpers (consultants, or from the Cooperative Extension Service) survey the locations for polypipe, and flow-meter well water. A computer algorithm then determines what size holes to poke in the pipe, to save water, and helps reduce water runoff. “Plus, we see the benefit of renewable energy and are still in discussion regarding the utilization of solar energy to offset grain bin, irrigation and energy costs,” McCorkle said. “Based on the new administration being pro-renewable energy, solar and wind energy might be the future.”
McCorkle concluded by acknowledging the success of the McCorkle operation was not possible “without my amazing wife [Lorrie], my family, [employee] Dana Terrell, all of the McCorkle Farm employees, landlords, scouts, grain merchandisers, equipment dealers and Rabo AgriFinance.”