Wyatt Cox and his family have raised corn, soybeans and wheat for generations
BUTLER, MO. – Wyatt Cox is just 20 years old, but he has known since he was a young boy that his destiny was to follow in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, grandfather, father and uncle. Wyatt wanted to be a farmer.
“I’ve been farming pretty much since I could walk,” Wyatt said “Grandpa had me picking up sticks and rocks in the fields. Farming has just been my life. I guess I was kind of born into it. Having the upbringing I did, I don’t think I will ever find myself out of the ag industry.
“I enjoy it. It’s something new every day. An office worker sees that office every day, but as a farmer, you see the crops planted, or the calf being born. You get to watch the calf grow. You go out and fertilize your crop and watch it grow. You get to see things from start to finish. When you harvest your crop, you think, ‘I did that.’ The satisfaction in that keeps you going.”
The family farming operation – which also includes Wyatt’s grandfather Alan, father Brian, uncle Mark – raised cattle at one time, but today all land is used for crops.
“The cattle weren’t making us very much money. Now, we grow corn, soybeans and wheat,” Wyatt explained. “We used to grind our own crops to feed the cattle, so it was kind of full circle.”
The family has about 10,000 acres of owned and leased farmland near Butler, Mo.
Spring is a busy time for the family as they prepare fields for planting and put their crops in. Corn, typically, is planted before soybeans. Winter wheat then follows soybeans.
“We get along better planting wheat after beans, not on corn stubble,” Wyatt said. “As soon as we get beans out in November, we put in the wheat.”
The family works to be good swards of the land, following conservation practices, and carefully monitoring soil health.
“We want to do the best we can with what Mother Nature intents for us,” Wyatt said. “In the Bible, it says to prepare your fields; sometimes they provide, sometimes they don’t.”
Poultry litter is utilized to improve soil fertilization and organic matter.
“Then we will hit it with anhydrous,” Wyatt explained. “We want fields to be like gardens. Before planting, we come in with a field cultivator and packer to get the ground ready to plant and to get the seeds at the same depth. We take pride in keeping our land up, building waterways and terraces, doing everything we can to get the best outcome.”
The family utilizes wells and two lakes to irrigate their crops.
In 2022, Wyatt received the Missouri FFA Association Diversified Crop Production Entrepreneurship Proficiency Award. To earn the award, Wyatt followed the practices outlined by his grandfather, father and uncle on more than 340 acres of land he rented to raise corn and soybeans.
“I worked with my family on a labor exchange for using equipment for my land,” Wyatt explained. “I couldn’t have done it without working with my family and what I learned from my family. Anything we normally did got applied to those fields, like terraces and waterway work. Planting season was the same, and it worked out just fine.”
Wyatt’s younger brother, Eli, is still in high school but is also active on the farm. The brothers are also planning their own farming operation.
“We have put together a little LLC, and hopefully, we will be buying our own land after he gets out of school,” Wyatt said. “We want to branch out a little. My grandpa’s brother branched out into the cattle business just up the road, but I think Eli and I will build on what we have with the row crops. Grandpa is getting a little older and doesn’t want to do as much anymore, so I think me being here has helped take a little weight off of him, my dad and my uncle. When Eli gets out of school, it will be even more weight off. I think we will end up taking it over one day. We are fortunate to have what we have and to have them as good teachers; they are good people to follow.
“If I hadn’t grown up this way, I might not have been a farmer, but I would have still been involved in farming, like working at the co-op or being a custom applicator. If it weren’t for my family, it would be very difficult to get started in farming; I’m very blessed. Things have not been handed to me because I put in the hours, but the hours I’ve put in can’t even compare to what I would have had to put in to get to where we are today on my own.”
In high school, Wyatt was active in sports and other activities, but the family farm always took priority.
“At my school, people were kind of oblivious to anything that goes on out in the cropping world,” he said. “People would ask why I wasn’t at the football game. I would tell them the corn has to come out when the corn has to come out; that’s how we make our living.”
Wyatt has no regrets about those missed football games because he was gaining the knowledge and work ethic to carry him throughout his life.
“I think everyone should work on a farm for two or three years,” he said. “You learn everything from simple plumbing to carpentry. We had some guys show up just out of high school looking for jobs, and they didn’t even know how to change the grease in a grease gun or operate a drill. These are just a few things you should learn, and I learned them on the farm.”
While it is years down the road, Wyatt hopes there will one day be a fifth-generation tending the land and crops of his family’s farm.
“When I was 13, 14 years old, my dad told me he loved me and loved the farm, but he wanted to make sure I was doing what I wanted to do, and if that wasn’t here, then so be it,” Wyatt recalled. “I believe I will have that same mindset when I have a family. I hope they would like to continue, but I will be supportive. I suppose we will have to wait and see.”