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Brad Reginelli — Continuing the Italian farming tradition in the Delta

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Brad Reginelli works with his father, Lawrence, on their multi-row crop operation near Shaw, Miss.
Although Brad Reginelli is in no hurry to take over L&N Reginelli Farms, he knows one day the time will come — and he will be ready.

His great-grandfather, grandfather, and father were all farmers of Italian heritage, but growing up, the farm was just a place where Brad Reginelli laid his head every night. As a multi-sport athlete growing up on the outskirts of Shaw, Miss., on his way to and from school, Brad would see his father, grandfather, and uncle working the land — and on occasions, in the bleachers when they were able to leave the operation to come see him play.

He graduated from Bayou Academy, located just west of Delta State University, home of the Fighting Okra — which is where his father earned degrees in chemistry and biology. “Bayou Academy was a small private school, so almost every boy was needed to fill out the school’s sports teams,” says Reginelli. “Over 65 percent of the students in our school came from farming families, so we all had that strong farming bond that developed us into a tight-knit group of classmates.”

One day, the young Reginelli could almost hear the farm calling. “From that point on, I knew I wanted to farm for a living,” says Reginelli. “After I graduated from Mississippi State University with a business degree, I headed straight back home and continued learning.”

The first piece of machinery he drove was a Case 5240 tractor. “Around the farm, everyone just called that little tractor ‘cabbage patch’, but I don’t remember why,” says Reginelli. “That ole tractor sure looks a lot smaller now!”

In no time he was handling every piece of equipment like a seasoned veteran. He had always loved being outside, whether he was hunting, fishing, or working. A few of the farm laborers on L&N Reginelli Farms have been there for more than a quarter of a century. They watched Brad grow up, and immediately took him under their wings when he started working on the farm fulltime. “I must have been around 15 or so when I started putting in full days on the farm,” remembers Reginelli. “Dad let my brother and me be kids until we were that age, then told us it was time to go to work!”

Brad’s father, Lawrence, has over 40 crops etched on his farming resume. He has a lot of experience, stories, and advice to share with his son, and Brad is absorbing it all. “Dad keeps a keen eye on things, and knows how this Delta soil responds to inputs,” says young Reginelli.

Water, Crop Mix and Future

Well in advance of the planting season, Brad and his father sit down at the table to decide on their crop mix, review varietal information, and discuss acreage allotments. They like DeKalb soybeans and corn varieties. “The disease packages are applicable to our environment,” adds Reginelli. “We always put a great deal of trust in variety trial information from the Mississippi State University Extension Service.”

In 2018, the Reginellis had 500 acres of corn and 3,500 acres of soybeans. They still own cotton harvesters and are contemplating getting back into cotton next year.

Brad handles the irrigation logistics on 3,600 acres of the 4,000-acre farm. With ongoing publicity surrounding the downward and unsustainable water use trend being placed on the Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer, he knows every farming operation must do its part to lessen the impact being placed on the aquifer. “We landform our fields with a one-tenth foot drop every 100 feet, which really helps the water flow down the rows,” says Reginelli. “We’ve got over 50 miles of poly-pipe across our mostly-irrigated farm. We use Computerized Hole Selection, have installed flow meters, and will have soil sensors installed in time for next year’s crop.”

Turning 30 this past August, the young Reginelli and his father have gathered over 15 harvests together. The senior Reginelli is 62, but work keeps him going, despite some lingering physical pain from being rear-ended in his pickup twice in the last two years. “Dad still gets around fine, albeit just a little more slowly,” says Reginelli. “I know one day he’ll call it quits, and I’ll take over the operation.”

Brad is not in any hurry to assume that responsibility. He wonders how the farm’s labor force will react to his taking over when that time comes. “Everyone knows change is often difficult, but everyone who works on this operation knows farming is our livelihood. I just want to keep the family farm going and allow everyone who works here to make a living for their families,” concludes Reginelli.

TAGS: Cotton
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