Mark Wimpy, who farms just south of Jonesboro, Ark.,
raised his first seed rice in the mid-1980s. Today, he
is still a seed rice producer for Cache River Valley
Seed, LLC and considers raising quality seed as his
greatest achievement as a farmer.
In 2011, Wimpy was selected as the Rice Farmer of the Year,
based on several sets of criteria. At that time, Rice Farming learned
that efficiency, environmental protection and conservation are his
ultimate goals. At the same time, the Arkansas farmer strives to
maintain the integrity of the land, conserving the resources available
for generations to come.
“We have a family partnership, and everybody has a role,” Wimpy
says. “My wife, Belinda, is my go-to person, who does whatever
needs doing on the farm in the way of keeping up with the books, all
of the receipts and the decision-making process. Without her, I
wouldn’t be able to do what I do.
“Both of my daughters, Haley and Hannah, help with the bookkeeping
and bill paying, and my son-in-law, Tim Fitzgerald, Haley’s
husband, is a stock broker with Stephens, Inc. He does quite a bit of
the fieldwork on the farm when we need him to, and he is also in
charge of watching the markets.”
Wimpy says they all meet at least once a month and sometimes
weekly during the busy season when there is a lot going on.
“I value everybody’s input,” he says. “Everyone helps make the
Before the new growing season begins, Wimpy researches all of the
commercial varieties, puts his head together with his seed dealer and
tries to come up with the best seed roster to maximize yield and
quality in each field.
“Some varieties seem to do better on particular fields even though
soil types, fertility programs and everything else are fairly consistent
across the farm,” he says. “We are in a rotation with rice, soybeans and
corn, so we’ll refer to prior rice yield maps to identify any problems
that may have been related to the variety that was planted in a certain field. If so, we can make a change
before the next season begins.”
In 2012, Wimpy planted CL151,
CL152, CL111 and CL261. He also
planted two conventional non-
Clearfield varieties: Roy J, which
is a long-grain and Jupiter, which
is a medium grain.
“We like to rotate the Clearfield
and non-Clearfield varieties to help
preserve the Clearfield technology,
which is so good,” Wimpy says.
“We don’t want to get into a
Zero Red Rice Policy
As a seed rice producer, Wimpy
takes great pride in keeping the farm
as clean as possible.
“We have a zero red rice policy
on this farm and have had one for
20 years,” he says. “We never let
red rice go to seed. We have a roguing
crew that has been with us for
more than 15 years. They are familiar
with all of the fields and where
the hot spots might be, and they do
an excellent job.”
Wimpy’s crop consultant, Lance
Ramthun, helps with variety selection, keeps up with the latest technology
and stays on top of the herbicide weed control programs,
making sure that the fields are kept clean, depending on which weeds
or grasses are present in each field.
“I would hate to try to make a crop without him,” Wimpy says. “He
is a viable part of this operation.”
The Arkansas farmer also brought corn into his rotation scheme for
the first time in 2012. By adding another crop, Wimpy believes it will
help deter herbicide resistance and also contribute in a positive way
to the soil profile.
Technology And Networking
In addition to variety selection and production practices, Wimpy
takes advantage of mobile devices in the field to increase efficiency.
“I have a smartphone, and I keep a laptop computer with me while
in the field to keep up with my records and documentation,” he says.
“Also, Lance and I share the same computer program so when he
scouts my fields, he can email his recommendations directly to me.
We’ve pretty much done away with paper. Everything goes on the
Wimpy also believes it is helpful to exchange ideas with farmers
in other rice-growing areas.
“I attended the USA Rice Outlook Conference for the first time in
2011 and then again in 2012,” he says. “I have met so many rice
farmers at this meeting and have enjoyed sharing ideas with them
about how they do things and how we do things. It has really opened
my eyes. I think we can all benefit by making these types of contacts
at this meeting. There are some wonderful people associated with
Producing Quality And Quantity
In looking back at last year’s season, Wimpy says the operation had
its highest average rice yield since he has been farming.
“We had an excellent crop,” he says. “We were able to plant in a
timely fashion, keep the crop irrigated properly and maintain good
weed control. We also had an early harvest,
and none of the rice lodged, which is
somewhat unusual for us. Overall, I would
say that 2012 was a very good year.”
Although his rice yielded well, Wimpy
says the industry needs to think about rice
“We’ve got to start producing better quality
rice, and variety selection is one piece of
the puzzle,” he says. “I think it would help
if we can get a little more vigor and toughness
back into our varieties to withstand
the extreme heat and the hot nights that we
“Although we have had some weather
situations that we can’t control, we still
need to change our philosophy back to a
mix between growing rice for quality and
quantity,” Wimpy adds.
“As U.S. rice farmers, we should be able
to produce a product that everyone wants to
Contact Carroll Smith at (901) 767-4020