Saturday, July 21, Farm Press,will recognize three U.S. peanut growers during the annual Southern Peanut Growers Conference, at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, Miramar Beach, Fla. The distinguished peanut growers from Texas, South Carolina and Alabama will be honored for their production efficiency.
The winner for the Southwest region is Mason Becker, who farms semi-irrigated peanuts and dryland cotton in Terry County. Becker, a fourth-generation farmer, grows both conventional and organic peanuts.
Becker, who moved to the farm in sixth grade when his mom married his dad Monty Henson, grew up working on the family farm after school and during the summer. He credits his parents for helping him get his start in farming. "My parents were extremely supportive in leasing me equipment and co-signing my notes, which was a huge help," says Becker. "It was always a goal to be self-sufficient and not lean on my parents financially because that’s kind of a huge burden for them."
In, 2011/2012, Becker secured financing for his own operation. "Since then, farming has gotten tougher with the way the weather and everything has worked out. That’s a part of farming, that’s something everybody goes through — growing pains. God’s provided a way for us when we didn’t think there was one, so I can’t complain about that."
Becker started farming in 2009 with a section and a quarter of land. "Since then, we’ve grown year by year. We started out all dryland, now I’ve got 90 percent dryland and 10 pivots."
While he's got some irrigation, Becker says it's supplemental, not enough to grow a crop. "We can't make a crop, dryland or irrigated, without rain."
In 2017, Becker grew 55 acres of organic peanuts on land he transitioned from CRP acres. Becker says he netted more on the 55 acres of organic peanuts than he did on the 240 acres of conventionals.