Deep Delta Roots
March 19, 2021
Written By Jason Jenkins
Milas Mainord has done his fair share of traveling. He’s visited vast oceans and breathtaking mountains, sprawling cities and quaint resorts, towering forests and picturesque prairies. For him, however, none compare to East Prairie, Mo.
“My wife, Barbara, and I once took a trip to Monterey, California,” he says. “We took a bus tour, and the tour guide went on and on about how there was no better place to be than Monterey. Nothing measured up to Monterey.
“When the tour was over, we thanked her, but I told her that I wish she could see the beauty I see here in the flatlands of the Delta,” he continues. “It’s a great place. Good people. Good crops. Yes, it’s most definitely flat, but it’s home. And there’s no place like it.”
Milas’ family roots truly run deep in the cropland of the Missouri Bootheel. With the exception of one semester spent at college in Cape Girardeau, he has lived his entire life in Mississippi County. His grandchildren represent the family’s sixth generation in the region.
“Some of our family ground goes back more than 100 years to my
great-great-grandfather,” he says. “We are connected to this place.”
Tragically, in 1979, when Milas was just 25 years old, his father, Rex, suffered a heart attack and died. He was only 53.
“Back then, we were farming about 900 acres. Dad had also started a small fertilizer business,” Milas recalls. “When he passed, I took over both the farming operation and the fertilizer business.”
Today, Milas farms some 11,000 acres in Mississippi, New Madrid and Scott counties with his brother-in-law, Fieldin LaPlant, his grandson and nephews, along with about a dozen employees. The family also owns a Reinke pivot irrigation dealership just up Highway 105 at Charleston, Mo. The fertilizer business was sold in 2015.
“We usually plant about 3,000 acres of wheat, 4,500 acres of corn and the rest goes into soybeans,” Milas says, noting that 90 percent of their acreage is pivot irrigated, while the remaining 10 percent is furrow irrigated.
“All of the wheat ground also gets double-cropped with beans. We never used to grow rice, but since the grandson and nephews came along, we’ve been planting 80 to 100 acres of rice the past three years.”
Like most farmers, Milas enjoys the autonomy and independence that the profession affords. Whether he’s driving a tractor or overseeing the grain dryers at the elevator, he says he couldn’t do it without his dedicated employees.
“I have really been blessed over the years to have good people working for me,” he says. “Everyone’s local, and we don’t have turnover. We’ve got super people and a super operation.”
Milas says the employees of his local MFA Oil bulk plant, which is only about a quarter-mile from his house, also play a role in the farm’s success. It’s one reason he’s served as a delegate for roughly 20 years.
“This business is all about people and relationships, and they treat us right,” Milas says. “We get great service and never worry if our tanks will be full. As a delegate, I’ve seen how MFA Oil has positioned itself for success today and into the future.”
He adds that he sees parallels between the growth of his farm and the oil and fuel business.
“Whenever you’re going through growth, it’s an exciting time, but sometimes it’s harder to stay on top once you reach the pinnacle than it was to actually grow the business. It takes a totally different mindset,” Milas says. “I think you need balance in everything you do.”