He’s the quintessential modern day, young farmer: cell phone in one hand, explaining tobacco harvesting instructions in Spanish, and office phone in the other, explaining spraying information for cotton in English.

Hard work, innovation and gritty determination have helped Linwood “Lyn” Vick get where he is today with his family’s farming operation — but having the right gene pool didn’t hurt a bit. In his case, the apple truly didn’t fall far from the tree.

His mother and father, Jerome and Dianne Vick, started the farming operation with 15 acres of land near Wilson, N.C., and headquarters for Vick Family Farms remains near that original farm.

Today, however, the farming operation encompasses more than 6,000 acres.

Over the years, the Vick family name has been associated with the country’s top producers of tobacco and sweet potatoes. In the late 1980s, they added cotton to their farming roster, and have been equally successful growing fiber.

Vick’s sister, Charlotte, who is still actively involved in the farming operation, made her mark early at Vick Farms as a cotton scout. “I often remind Lyn of how much he didn’t like growing cotton back in those days,” she laughs.

Today, Vick not only likes growing cotton, he’s very good at it. His achievements in cotton production and his use of environmentally sound practices have earned him recognition as the Farm Press/Cotton Foundations 2013 High Cotton Award winner for the Southeast states.

He and winners from the Delta, Southwest, and Western regions will be honored at a special awards breakfast at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences at San Antonio, Texas.

North Carolina State University Extension Agent Norman Harrell, who nominated Vick for the award, says, “Lyn and his family continually push the edge of technology, and do it in a way that helps them produce both high yielding and high quality cotton crops year after year. The entire family is always open to working with us in any way they can to help us develop meaningful information that could help other farmers.”

The Vicks started out growing conventional cotton in 1987 —back in the era when he didn’t like it so much.

“We had a big problem with soil erosion,” Vick says. “Early in the growing season especially, our conventional cotton was literally sandblasted by the fine, sandy soils on much of our farm.

“When Roundup Ready cotton came along, we switched to all no-till for cotton, soybeans, double-crop soybeans, and wheat. Our tobacco and sweet potatoes are grown with conventional tillage, so going no-till on cotton and soybeans helped improve the tilth of our soil and helped with erosion problems.”

Much of his cotton is in a four-year rotation with sweet potatoes, tobacco and soybeans. On some land not so well-suited to these crops, he uses a three-year rotation, which sometimes requires back-to-back years of cotton.