“I’m the only farmer out here… and if I’m gone, who’s going to do it?”
Joe Wilson is a third-generation farmer from Longs, South Carolina, just a few miles from Myrtle Beach. At just 29 years old, Joe farms corn, soybeans, and wheat on South Carolina’s ‘beach sand’ soil. As one of the only farmers in the area, Joe tends about 1,200 acres just minutes from a major beach and vacation spot. A short drive from the sand and waves, and you are at Wilson Farms' home farm operation.
Joe has been an active farmer since he was 18 years old, and, like most young farmers, has had his fair share of challenges. But like any farmer, Joe is most proud come harvest time every year, when he can see the fruits of his labor and how his crops have yielded as a result of his extensive work in soil and crop health throughout the year.
Joe’s farm doesn’t fit the typical landscape of most crop farms, but that is far from a reflection of the work and success he has. His home farm butts up to a main road, and his equipment and headquarters are right out the back door of his parents' home. You won’t see extensive grain storage facilities or big equipment sheds, but you will see his latest pride and joy, a new John Deere tractor and Brent graincart, purchased just last year.
When it comes to farming in beachside South Carolina, “you are either 7 days from a flood, or 7 days from a drought,” Cody Herring, Joe's Pioneer sales representative shares. “Around here, we have what we call beach sand, so the soil type isn’t what you will find in the Midwest.”
With a unique soil composition, Wilson Farms uses a unique fertilizer application to create the best growing conditions possible for his crops.
Joe focuses on innovation and testing new methods to continuously improve his results. He learns from his failures even more than his achievements.
Not only is Joe one of the only farmers in the area, but he is one of the few black farmers in the United States. “It’s no mystery that there isn’t a whole lot of minorities or diversity in this industry,” shares Herring.
Cody says that throughout the agriculture community, it is possible for anyone to make farming a career, regardless of who you are or where you come from. As a retailer for Corteva Agriscience, Cody serves a wide customer base and has seen firsthand that the farming community is made up of successful people with drive and ambition to succeed.
As a young farmer, Joe encouraged others who are interested or considering farming at a young age to start off small, keep doing what you are doing, and don’t compare yourself to others, because it takes everyone a long time to get where they are.
These stories were made possible through Corteva’s Open Innovation Initiative, where Corteva believes in bringing the outside in to advance agriculture for all. Ohio State student Mallary Caudill submitted a proposal tell stories of farmers innovating across America and Corteva granted approval for her to visit these farms because they represent ways a diverse group of American farmers are using climate-positive practices to build a better world for the next generation. Corteva believes scientific, societal and agricultural innovations are made through collaboration and inclusion. We are proud to feature how Corteva farmers work for #WhatMattersMost and are #InItForGood.
A farm kid from west-central Ohio, Mallary Caudill is part of the third generation of her family’s grain and livestock farm. When she isn’t home on her family’s operation, she is a student at the Ohio State University studying agricultural communications. She is passionate about all facets of agriculture, for all people, and works to tell stories and learn about the industry she grew up in as much as she can.