In popcorn parlance, “old maids” are kernels that fail to pop. Devoted fans of the Tiny But Mighty brand learn about that and other kernels of popped corn wisdom when Gene Mealhow promotes his product as “Farmer Gene” in Whole Foods stores and at events across the country.
While his family left farming in 1989 during the farm crisis, Mealhow got back into production agriculture in 1990. The fourth-generation farmer bought 33 acres of the family’s land—all that he could afford—near Shellsburg, Iowa.
“I wanted to farm,” he says, walking into the former farrowing house where Lynn, his wife, and Mark Kluber, his brother-in-law, are packaging corn. Gene’s sister-in-law, Lori Kluber, and niece, Ashley Arp, also work for the family popcorn business. The Mealhows’ four sons, with careers in other fields, love to come home and help out when they can, too.
“If I was going to be a successful farmer on my small acreage, I knew I had to do something different,” Mealhow continues, taking his leave of packing and walking to the cornfield in front of his home. At first, he says, he tried growing tofu beans and herbs. “I went cold turkey not using chemicals and failed miserably,” he admits, chuckling. He eventually settled on “biologically based” growing methods, focusing on soil nutrients and soil balancing.
In addition to the 33-acre homestead Mealhow cultivates, “We have four contract farmers,” he says, all within a 75-mile radius, which allows Mealhow to be on hand during planting and harvest. On his acreage, Mealhow uses a 300 Massey Ferguson® combine, as well as an Allis Chalmers 185 tractor, both of which Mealhow says are wonderfully reliable.
The crux of Tiny But Mighty’s sales comes from retail outlets, such as Whole Foods Market, Fareway and Hy-Vee stores. “Most big popcorn companies are selling 10 million pounds of popcorn a year,” he says. “Our goal is to hit between 2 million to 3 million pounds this year. So in the world of popcorn, we are teeny tiny.” He adds, “But we’re growing.”
Danny Kornegay isn’t afraid to try new things.
Raising hogs, tobacco, sweet potatoes, cotton, watermelons, peanuts, soybeans corn and more, his 5,500-acre operation is about as diversified as a farm can realistically be. Danny even partnered with four other producers to build their own cotton gin and warehouse 26 years ago. Yet this year he’s made a new addition—asparagus.
Danny, 62, concedes he is no expert on asparagus. Fortunately, he and his family—his wife, Susie; son, Dan; and daughter, Kim Kornegay-LeQuire—have plenty of experience managing different operations and trying new things at their farm, Kornegay Family Farms & Produce, in Princeton, North Carolina.
The operation’s long-time success led to Danny being named the 2015 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year at last year’s Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie, Ga.
The family has weathered downturns in both the cotton and tobacco markets, yet both continue to provide good income. “The future for tobacco with regulations and demand doesn’t make it the most stable industry. We think there will continue to be a strong demand for healthy American-grown food like sweet potatoes and vegetables.”
Both Dan and Kim give credit to their dad for planning a farm for the future and working to make it all come to fruition.
“I think Dad has just had such great vision,” says Kim, who oversees the farm’s payroll, human resources and food safety program, among other duties. “He has not tried to be the biggest at everything, but always had a plan for steady and managed growth. And in the past 10 years, my brother has had a big role in that.”
Among other prizes for being named Farmer of the Year, Danny received a year’s use of a Massey Ferguson® 8737 tractor. He says about the MF8737: “It is well built. The Dyna-VT™ transmission is very nice because you don’t have to change gears … and the comfortable ride may be the best feature.”
See the full story about Kornegay, his farm and family: A Visit with Southeastern Farmer of the Year Danny Kornegay. For more information on the 2016 Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year award, held Tuesday, October 18, check out the Sunbelt Expo website.
In 2010, John and Beth Barth of Bushnell, Fla., realized they needed a tractor to maintain their land and tend to their grove of olive trees. “We didn’t really know what to buy,” John says. “We wanted a small tractor.”
The Barths drove to Brooksville, Fla., 30 minutes away and purchased a shiny red GC2400. “We knew it was a good name,” says John of the Massey Ferguson® brand. They also purchased a rotary cutter, a front-end loader, a potato puller and a disk for all the needs on their property.
In the five-plus years the Barths have owned the tractor, John has put more than 285 hours on the machine. “I’ve spent hundreds of hours with the front-end loader, moving wood chips, soil and driveway stone,” he says, noting it’s a small but powerful tractor, especially considering he uses it to maintain 10 acres.
“It’s not a big machine,” John explains, “but it’s perfect. It’s quick; that’s one of the nice things about it. The tractor gets around the front yard and house real fast.”
John also cites comfort. “It’s saved my back a million times,” he says.
“The tractor has been a godsend, a blessing for us,” John adds. “It always runs! That’s the main thing. Our tractor has been a very, very good thing for us.”
For their full story, see Liquid Gold: Growing Olives in the Sunshine State.
Ron Thompson treats his Massey Ferguson® 1528 tractor like a farmhand, using it for farm chores such as cultivating the fields, hauling bushels of produce and spreading chicken manure. His tractorless neighbors also count on the tractor (and Thompson) to help spread topsoil in the spring.
The compact model, he says, is perfect for his 9-acre farm in Rockwood, Ontario. “I put it through a lot and it keeps going,” Thompson says.
In Marshall, N.C., Stephen Robertson appreciates the 4-wheel drive and wide stance of his Massey Ferguson 243 to move manure and drill seed on the hilly terrain of his 40-acre farm. The stability the tractor provides is one of his favorite features, and other farmers have taken note. “I have a lot of friends who would love to have this tractor,” he says.
Thompson and Robertson appreciate the ease of purchasing new parts for their tractors, though both note their models almost never need repairs. When Robertson needs parts, he calls Wells Repair in Greenville, Tenn.; Thompson relies on Connect Equipment, the largest AGCO dealership in Southern Ontario, to service his tractor.
“They can always tell me exactly what’s wrong and get it fixed, so I can get it back on the farm,” Thompson says. “I depend on that tractor.”
Massey Ferguson, a worldwide brand of AGCO (NYSE: AGCO), is pleased to announce it is setting a new standard with the introduction of the MF 6700 S Series, which includes the world’s first 200 hp, four-cylinder agricultural tractor.
Its unrivalled four-cylinder power, manoeuvrability and agility puts the MF 6700 S in a class of its own. Massey Ferguson’s new ‘S Effect’ takes maximum four-cylinder engine output to 200hp (with Engine Power Management) for the first time in the MF 6718 S, which along with five other new models, will be introduced at Innov-Agri, Outerville, France on 6th to 8th September.
The compact, powerful engine, a 2.67m wheelbase and a turning radius of just 4.75m also makes the MF 6718 S the most manoeuvrable 200hp agricultural tractor. With an exceptional power to weight ratio, the tractor combines the highest performance with optimum economy.
Light and nimble for loader operations, the MF 6700 S Series also provides the strength, hydraulic power and lift capacity for heavy duty fieldwork.
The six new models in the MF 6700 S Series are powered by the very latest AGCO Power 4.9 litre, four-cylinder engine. This generates maximum powers from 120hp to 175hp, with Engine Power Management (EPM), boosting output on all models – up to 200hp on the largest, MF 6718 S.
“Massey Ferguson invented the concept of the high power, four-cylinder tractor, with the original MF 6600 breaking new ground and creating a completely new class of 150hp+ tractors. Now, with the ‘S effect’ we are further advancing performance this sector up to 200hp on the MF 6718 S,” says Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson Director Marketing Services.
“The advanced engine develops its maximum power at just 2,000rpm and generates maximum torque at 1,500rpm, which means it delivers exceptional fuel economy combined with superb pulling power – and with plenty in reserve. This provides users with the operating benefits associated with larger, longer and heavier six cylinder tractors, but in a compact and extremely light machine,” he adds.
“The only comparison with the MF 6600 Series is its looks. The MF 6700 S Series contains considerable changes and new developments in engine design, transmission choice, hydraulic output, four-speed PTO and superb cab comfort,” he adds.