February 2023 - 6

Bill Brim of Lewis Taylor Farms. Rising
costs make farming crops like this field of
broccoli more challenging. Lewis Taylor
Farms is battling escalating costs through
constructing its own farm equipment and
growing the highest yielding crops.
Photo: Doug Ohlemeier
Lewis Taylor Farms
counters rising labor costs
BY DOUG OHLEMEIER
ASSISTANT EDITOR
L
ewis Taylor Farms Inc., one of the Southeast's
largest privatelyowned
vegetable and
greenhouse operations,
battles escalating
costs through in-house
mechanization and
efficient use of labor as well as improved methods of
fighting pests and diseases.
In 2019, the farm paid $350 a ton for fertilizer.
Today, it's $960. Cartons have doubled in cost,
increasing 8% twice in 2021 and increasing another
8% in 2022, with plastic up 15%. Seed companies are
seeking additional increases of 15%.
" I don't know how in the world they expect growers to
pay that kind of money, " said Bill Brim, president, CEO
and co-owner.
To save money, the Tifton, Georgia, company
improvises when possible to make processes
more mechanical.
" We are trying to do everything we possibly can to
create new things and new ways to cut labor, to produce
seeds and to do a better job improving our yields, " Brim
said. " We have a staff that helps us manufacture a lot of
our own equipment on the farm. We are doing anything
possible that can make it more mechanical. "
Brim said the University of Georgia (UGA) plans to hire
a breeder to focus research on how to ensure crops will
mature simultaneously.
" We need varieties that will produce at the same time,
6 | FEBRUARY 2023
so we can pick that one bush all at once and be done
with it, " he said.
Combining a streamlined crop maturation with
mechanical harvesting could save as much as 25% in
labor, Brim said.
In the past, Georgia growers relied on Extension
expertise from the University of Florida. Today, UGA
staff does well with Extension and researchers working
together, Brim said. UGA's 80% research and 20%
Extension ratio allows for better field protocols, which
assist growers with practical solutions, he said.
Greens expansion
Production often increases by a couple hundred
acres a year for the company, which grows a large
variety of vegetables and melons. This year, however,
acreage could decrease following H-2A wage hikes that
became official on Jan. 1, Brim said. Georgia, along with
Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and South
Carolina, has an H-2A hourly rate of $13.67. For Georgia,
that's a 14.1% increase from last year.
Lewis Taylor's biggest items are greens, cabbage, bell
peppers, cucumbers and squash. It also grows broccoli,
specialty peppers, eggplant and tomatoes, and Athena
cantaloupes and watermelons on about 7,000 acres.
Tracing its heritage to the 1930s, Lewis Taylor Farms
transitioned from growing transplant vegetables
and tomatoes to growing fresh produce in the 1990s,
beginning with peppers, cucumbers and squash. Then
came greens, which the farm started growing in 2006.
The company grows collards, kale, turnips and mustard
greens, with harvest beginning in late September.

February 2023

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of February 2023

February 2023 - 1
February 2023 - 2
February 2023 - 3
February 2023 - 4
February 2023 - 5
February 2023 - 6
February 2023 - 7
February 2023 - 8
February 2023 - 9
February 2023 - 10
February 2023 - 11
February 2023 - 12
February 2023 - 13
February 2023 - 14
February 2023 - 15
February 2023 - 16
February 2023 - 17
February 2023 - 18
February 2023 - 19
February 2023 - 20
February 2023 - 21
February 2023 - 22
February 2023 - 23
February 2023 - 24
February 2023 - 25
February 2023 - 26
February 2023 - 27
February 2023 - 28
February 2023 - 29
February 2023 - 30
February 2023 - 31
February 2023 - 32
February 2023 - 33
February 2023 - 34
February 2023 - 35
February 2023 - 36
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/september-october-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/july-august
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/may-june-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/april-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/march-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/vgn-digital-seed-guide-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/february-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/january-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/december-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/buyers-guide-2023
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/november-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/september-october-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/august-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/july-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/june-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/may-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/march-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/february-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/seedguide-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/buyersguide-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/january-2022
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/december-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/november-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/october-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/september-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/august-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/july-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/june-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/may-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/april-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/march-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/february-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/seedguide-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/buyersguide-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/january-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/december-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/november-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/october-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/september-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/august-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/july-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/june-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/may-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/april-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/march-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/february-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/buyersguide-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/january-2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/december-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/november-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/october-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/september-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/august-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/july-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/june-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/may-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/april-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/march-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/february-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/buyersguide-2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/greatamericanmediaservices/VGN/january-2019
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com