Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation
Agricultural News and Information
Greg Gibson, Coordinator
Public Relations / Multimedia
1-800-227-8244 ext. 4154
Ellzeys Win State Young Farmer Achievement Award
Jones County young farmers Jason and Lindsey Ellzey of Ellisville have
been named the state winners of the 2009 Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation
Young Farmers and Ranchers Achievement Award contest. They were recognized
for their farming innovations, leadership skills, and involvement in Farm
Bureau and their community.
The Ellzeys will receive a new pickup truck, the use of John Deere and
Kubota tractors, and various cash awards. They will represent Mississippi
in national competition in Seattle, Washington, in January.
is a fourth generation farmer, who lives on and farms the same land that
was once homesteaded by his ancestors. He and his father are full partners
in a diversified farm that includes poultry, a cow/calf operation, blueberries,
hay, soybeans and timber.
The Ellzeys’ four broiler houses produce about 2 million pounds
of chicken each year, and this gives them a stable farm income. The houses
also provide fertilizer for their hay and cattle operation.
Jason says things have changed dramatically since he started farming full-time
in 1998. A lack of good land to lease, rising input costs, and declining
crop prices forced the Ellzeys to rethink their farming and marketing
“One solution we came up with was diversification and niche marketing,”
For example, instead of spraying their wheat in order to kill the ryegrass,
they decided to simply plant ryegrass to harvest. This allows them to
add value to their product by bagging the seed and marketing it locally
to be used as winter grazing for cattle.
“We also set up a demonstration of a new-style round bale mulcher
to be used by grassing contractors,” Jason said. “Two of the
machines were sold that day, and when the grassing contractors asked where
they could buy the mulch hay, we immediately contracted all of the straw
that we baled behind the combine.”
In the summer, instead of growing soybeans, the Ellzeys switched to brown-top
millet in order to make better use of their sacking facilities. This allowed
them to bale straw behind the combine for their new market and to hold
dove hunts on the millet fields.
The Ellzeys also began growing blueberries. They put in 10 acres the first
year and discovered that, with the addition of the blueberries, time suddenly
became a limiting factor. So instead of the brown millet, they once again
began planting soybeans.
“Because the blueberry harvest runs for 45-plus days, starting in
late May, this is exactly the time we harvest ryegrass, bale straw, and
plant millet,” Jason said. “So with the blueberry harvest
only getting bigger and with the rising price of soybeans, we decided
to plant soybeans again.
“Although we are not double-cropping wheat, we are planning on planting
ryegrass for winter grazing and then mowing it in early spring for cow
hay,” he said. “This should not only allow us to get our soybeans
in the ground before blueberry harvest but satisfy our need for cow hay
for the year, allowing us to put some dedicated hay fields back in crop
production and giving us more time to devote to the blueberry harvest,
pruning and weed control.”
The Ellzeys have become very creative with their blueberry operation,
which has grown to 40 acres with a yield of 4,566 pounds per acre per
season. Jason says growing up in row crop production has helped him understand
the importance of adequate water, fertilizer, proper soil, positive hydrogen,
and weed control. He and his father have designed equipment and methods
of planting and management that have produced some extremely high yields
and vigorous growth from some very young plants.
For example, in the early process of preparing the soil, they incorporate
pine bark into the soil before planting. While this is a common practice
in blueberry planting, the way they incorporate it is not at all common.
Jason says most farmers would simply pile the bark on the ground in rows
then run a tractor-mounted tiller over it to incorporate it.
“While this does work, the benefits of the bark, less soil compaction,
aeration and water movement, were not maximized,” he said. “Through
a redesign of our cultivator and small three-point hitch disk we had,
we were able to build nice beds and incorporate the bark throughout the
entire root zone.”
The Ellzeys also decided to unroll round bales of mulch with a tractor-mounted
bale unroller directly over the prepared beds.
“This gives us a uniform strip of mulch to plant through and promotes
vigorous growth due to the lack of competition,” Jason said. “It
also saves time, money and the labor of constantly spraying. In addition,
it creates a new market for our mulch hay as other farmers are impressed
and have started buying our mulch and using it in their blueberry operations.”
Looking toward the future, Jason says he and his father plan to expand
the cow herd and make several major improvements to the blueberry operation.
Jason and Lindsey also plan to continue their involvement with Farm Bureau.
They appreciate the organization’s work on behalf of Mississippi
Jason serves on his county Farm Bureau board of directors and as chair
of the county Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. He and Lindsey have
both served on the Young Farmers and Ranchers State Committee, where Jason
was vice chair in 2007. Jason was also a voting delegate to the American
Farm Bureau Federation Convention and a State Resolutions Committee vice
The Ellzeys are members of the Gulf South Blueberry Growers Association
and local civic organizations. They are active members of their church.
Jason and Lindsey have two children, ages 8 and 5.
For more information about the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Young
Farmers and Ranchers program, contact YF&R Coordinator Greg Shows
at 1-800-227-8244, ext. 4277, or 601-977-4277.
Farm Bureau Federation is the state's largest general farm
organization with more than 209,000 member-families statewide. There
are Farm Bureaus in all 82 counties in Mississippi
where agriculture comprises a fundamental part of
Mississippi 's economy.
Headquartered in Jackson
, the federation is an independent, non-profit agricultural
organization and is not associated with any arm of the government.
For more information about Farm Bureau, visit our website at www.msfb.com.