Farming for the Future in the Heart of the Mississippi Delta

    Success germinates by prioritizing family and land stewardship for Silent Shade Planting Company, the 2023 Top Producer of the Year. (Lori Hays)

    Finalists for the Top Producer of the Year award represent the best in the business of farming, specifically entrepreneurial originality; financial and business progress; and industry and community leadership. This is not an award about size or scope. Instead, it focuses on professionalism, sophistication and innovation. Congratulations to Silent Shade Planting Company, the 2023 Top Producer of the Year award winner. The Jack family was recognized at a ceremony held Jan. 24 during Top Producer Summit in Nashville.


    To tell the story of Silent Shade Planting Company, you have to rewind to 1979. Willard Jack and Laura Lee, newlyweds at the time, were in search of less expensive land with room to grow. They found just that and moved from Ontario, Canada to Mississippi.

    As the operation grew, so did the family. But an unexpected obstacle resulted in a course change that put son Jeremy on a new path.

    “He thought he wanted to work in D.C., and he did work there for a while, but then I was diagnosed with cancer,” Willard says.

    Knowing his parents would have to sell the farm if his father got any sicker, Jeremy decided D.C. wasn’t for him and moved back to Mississippi. Within five years, Jeremy took over the day- to-day operations of Silent Shade as CEO/COO.

    Today, the family farms more than 11,000 acres in the Mississippi Delta growing cotton, corn, soybeans and rice. In addition to Willard, Laura Lee and Jeremy, the family business includes Jeremy’s wife, Elizabeth, and his sister, Stacie Koger, as CFO.

    Together Is Better 

    “There’s always something going on, so the only way to keep everybody on the same page is to overcommunicate,” Jeremy says.

    From a variety of crops that require irrigation and aerial fertilizer applications, even moving dirt and managing their own trucking company, the management piece of Silent Shade is the key. The work is done together, line by line, plan by plan. It’s all discussed out in the open.

    And it’s not just decisions for today. Farming for the future is rooted in everything this operation does.

    “The decisions we’re making today might not be beneficial in our lifetime, but they will be for future generations,” Jeremy says.

    Through the help of technology and a dedicated team of employees, continuous improvement sprouts in every step.

    “For years and years, we’ve had data flowing in. We didn’t know what we could do with it all. We just had a bunch of garbage data,” Jeremy says.

    At the time, that data didn’t benefit the overall goal, but now that data and technology are tools that allow the farm to hold sway over decisions from anywhere.

    “Now the great thing is we can have all this good information instantly, and know what we’re looking at and how we’re doing it,” Jeremy adds.

    It’s evident just how much Silent Shade has grown. Success that germinates by prioritizing their farm family and how they care for the land, both of which continue to be some of life’s greatest gifts.

    Congratulations to the Jack family and Silent Shade on being the 2023 Top Producer of the Year award winner.

    Get to know the other 2023 Top Producer award winners:

    Engel Family Farms, Top Producer of the Year finalist

    MoDak Dairy, Top Producer of the Year finalist

    Marcia Ruff, Executive Women in Agriculture Trailblazer Award 

    Trey Wasserburger, Tomorrow’s Top Producer Horizon Award

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