By Jennifer Dorsett
Mason Becker, a Terry County peanut farmer, has been named winner of the 2018 Farm Press Peanut Efficiency Award for the Southwest region. He was recognized during a ceremony at the Southern Peanut Growers Conference July 21.
In cooperation with Southern Peanut Growers Conference, Farm Press recognizes three growers each year from the Southeast and Southwest regions who produce the highest yields at the lowest cost per acre.
Becker is a fourth generation farmer who grows semi-irrigated peanuts and dryland cotton. He also grows conventional Virginia peanuts and organic Spanish peanuts.
In 2017, Becker produced yields 20 percent higher than his average. He also grew organic peanuts for the first time.
“It was unbelievable. The contract price was three times higher,” Becker said in an interview with Southwest Farm Press. “I would never have thought I would have been growing anything organic, but it’s hard not to look at it for the money when it pays three times the contracted value.”
He grew more than 200 acres of peanuts conventionally and broke out 55 acres that had previously been enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) into cultivation for his organic crop.
Becker practices crop rotation and uses targeted irrigation strategies to maximize harvests in an area known for its limited water availability and dry climate.
Becker, who has been farming since 2009, serves on the board of directors for Western Peanut Growers Association and Terry County Co-op Gin. He’s also the gin’s representative for Plains Cotton Growers.