(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
EAST PRAIRIE - Andrew Ambrose puts it simply: "Farming is my life."
Ambrose, who will be honored Jan. 24 at the Clinton Building during the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce's annual Farmers Recognition Luncheon, says he doesn't really remember not being involved in agriculture. As a child he began helping on the farm and by age 8 had earned a spot behind the steering wheel of a tractor cultivating beans.
When he turned 15, Ambrose rented his own ground - 100 acres - to begin farming. Following graduation from East Prairie High School in 1997, Ambrose, the son of Jama Hubbard of East Prairie and Andy Ambrose of Jackson, rented 600 acres and with his grandfather, Jim Bishop, started farming full-time.
It was a good partnership, Ambrose said. "He gave me a whole lot of advice in the beginning and has definitely helped me along the way."
He described Bishop as a leader in no-till conservation, a practice he continues to follow.
In 1999, Bishop retired and Ambrose began farming on his own.
Today, Ambrose Farms, headquartered just southeast of Sikeston, is comprised of 500 acres owned by Ambrose and another 1,900 acres of rented ground. While much of the land is located around the Dogwood area, Ambrose points out he also farms land from Bement to Matthews to just southwest of East Prairie.
A row-crop farmer, Ambrose said the acreage typically is evenly divided between corn and soybeans (with a wheat crop harvested prior to planting beans). Of the 2,400 acres, he said 2,000 is under pivot irrigation, which during dry years like 2006 proves to be beneficial.
Currently, Ambrose Farms includes two full-time employees in addition to Ambrose. Ambrose said his grandfather still lends a hand, running a combine during harvest and his father also will pitch in when he can.
With a crop storage capacity of about 40,000 bushels, the young farmer said that is something he would like to increase in order to take better advantage of the markets.
"I keep an eye on the (market) reports, trying to strike prices to come up with the best average I can," said Ambrose. "I've done pretty well."
An active member of the Mississippi County Farm Bureau Board for the past eight years, Ambrose has served on the Mississippi County Farm Service Agency committee for two years. He is a founding board member of the Great River Soy Oil Co-op, the bio-diesel plant at Lilbourn.
"I see renewable fuels as a huge part of the future of farming," Ambrose said. "The ethanol boom is a major benefit for farmers right now. Hopefully, it will continue."
When Ambrose takes time off from the farm, he rides motorcycles and during the winter months will take part indoor R/C racing events. But even more important, he said, is spending time with his family - his wife of 10 years, Julie, and their 3-year-old daughter, Ryanne.
And there appears to be another Ambrose developing strong agricultural roots.
"She likes to ride the tractor and go in the truck whenever I check the irrigation," he said about Ryanne, then he added with a laugh, "She says when she grows up she is going to be a 'fahmah.'"
Now, that's Daddy's girl.