Being raised and surrounded by agriculture, this fourth generation farmer’s destiny was developed at a young age.
It all began in Kaplan where Simon grew up and was raised on the family farm. Simon graduated from Kaplan High in 1974. He pursued and earned a B.S. degree in agronomy from McNeese State University in 1978. He served as Agronomy Club president and was also selected as Outstanding Agronomist. In 1980 he received an agriculture education certification from ULL, formerly the University of Southwestern Louisiana. However, production agriculture had the apparent influence on his young life.
Simon’s farm has grown to 1800 acres of rice and 1700 acres of soybeans. He has also planted wheat when the market presents the opportunity. Conservation is a very important factor in his farm. Laser leveling is an ongoing practice with the ultimate goal being that every acre farmed is precision leveled. Diesel powered engines that drove water wells have been replaced with electric motors and variable transmissions to provide a cleaner and cheaper source of energy. Minimum tillage is now implemented because of the new technology developed in rice varieties that originated at the LSU Rice Experiment Station.
“Those scientists have created a new standard for growing rice that allows us to be competitive with other rice producing states,” says Simon.
His rotation is one year rice followed by one year soybeans. He believes this rotation will help preserve the Clearfield technology created by LSU here in our own back yard.
Preparation for the rice crop begins in the fall so no-till planting can be utilized. Simon believes a good drill and a good spray rig are vital to establishing an early, clean, solid stand. A major emphasis is placed on establishing a consistent stubble crop. He is constantly looking for improvement by using proven methods along with ongoing trials.
“Being able to grow 10,000 pounds of rice per acre consistently would make Southwest Louisiana competitive with all other rice producing states. The longer warm climate allows us the potential for growing a successful second crop,” says Simon.
Soybeans in his area benefit greatly from being grown on raised beds. His beans are drilled on 68” beds with 15” spacings. Beds are pulled as early as possible allowing for minimum till planting into a high moisture bed. This allows for an extended planting window reducing unplanted acres.
Simon has implemented a software program sponsored by Syngenta called Land DB. It is a very effective tool that allows you to easily track cost from field to field throughout the growing season. It provides a detailed summary of input costs, allowing you to evaluate your profit potential.
He has given back to an industry that has been good to him. He presently serves as Acadia Parish’s FSA Committee Chairman and has been involved with that agency stemming back to the 1980’s when he served on the financial board of the FHA. He also finds working with the LSU Ag Center Rice and Soybean Advisory Board beneficial and rewarding. Louisiana Rice Council, Acadia Rice Growers, Vermilion Rice Growers, and Louisiana Rice Growers Association are also part of his agenda. He also serves on the advisory panel for Ricetec Seed.
Aside from agriculture, he has a devotion to education and school activities. He has served as President of Estherwood Elementary PTC, coached basketball for many years at Estherwood Elementary and Redemptorist Catholic, and actively participated in the Notre Dame Athletic Booster Club. Simon has also served as an advisory council member of Midland Vocational Agriculture and FFA. He attends Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and is a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 4791.
Simon feels very fortunate to have his 89-year-old father and 85-year-old mother still actively supporting him. Their love for agriculture has been a legacy that has passed through them down to him and one that he is passing down to his own children and grandchildren. He is married to the former Rhonda Parden and they have four children, Lucas, Wesley, Jessica and Amy Simon.