ONE GROWER PUBLISHING, LLC
PROFITABLE PRODUCTION STRATEGIES
Competitive Bidding Pushes Land Prices Higher
Walter Little, Jr.
Lobo Farms Father/Daughter Team Rocks Cotton In Arizona
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Vol. 65 No. 7
Cotton Farming PROFITABLE PRODUCTION STRATEGIES
Bailee Ott Snyder, who showed cattle from the age of 9 to 19, began driving a tractor at 14 and started farming on her own at 17, was “a very busy kid with a strong work ethic.” After graduating from the University of Arizona in 2017, she and her father, Lee Ott, established Lobo Farms in Yuma County, Arizona, where they grow lemons, alfalfa and award-winning cotton. This is their story.
DEPARTMENTS & COLUMNS
4 5 14
Editor’s Note Cotton’s Agenda Industry News
15 16 22
Mid-South Report Specialists Speaking My Turn
ON THE COVER: Lee Ott and his daughter, Bailee, won the Stoneville Legacy Club highest yield West in this ST 4990B3XF cotton block. Cover photo by Kenny Melton.
LAND PRICES ON THE RISE Competitive bidding is pushing land prices higher as producers feel more financially secure.
IN MEMORIAM Walter Little Jr., who founded Cotton Farming in 1957, passed away May 20. Read his reflections on the magazine’s rich history published in the Golden Anniversary issue in January 2007.
JUDD HILL FIELD DAY A cotton sustainability field day will be held at the Judd Hill Foundation July 30.
the official publication of the ginning industry Learn how module wrap performance can affect plastic contamination and the steps being taken to address this issue. Cotton Consultant of the Year 2021
CCOY NOMINATIONS OPEN ONLINE
To nominate a deserving candidate for the 2021 Cotton Consultant of the Year Award, co-sponsored by Cotton Farming and Syngenta, fill out the form online at cottonfarming.com/ccoy. Deadline for nominations is July 31.
If you would like to nominate a consultant deserving of this outstanding recognition, please take a moment to fill out the following form. Please use a separate page for biographical/professi onal information. Additional recommendations via letters or emails from other farmers, consultants and industry members are also encouraged to provide support for the nominee.
The Cotton Consultant of the Year (CCOY) Award marks more than four decades. The award recognizes a consultant who has made great contributions to the cotton industry through outstanding customer relations, leadership and innovation. It honors a consultant who not only meets these requirements but also exceeds them. Syngenta and Cotton Farming magazine — CCOY sponsors — are soliciting your help in selecting the 2021 recipient, who will be named at a special celebration Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. The winning consultant and the person who nominates the winner receive a two-night hotel stay and airfare to Memphis. The 2021 CCOY recipient also will be featured in a four-page salute in the February 2022 issue of Cotton Farming.
Submit nominations by July 31, 2021. Mail: Carroll Smith 7201 Eastern Ave. Germantown, TN 38138 Scan/Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can print an electronic version of the form located on the Cotton Farming website at www.cottonfarming.com .
Nominate online: cottonfarming.com/ccoy
Consultant’s Name: Company Name: Mailing Address: City:
In your own words, please tell us why you are nominating the consultant above for the of the Year Award. Additional Cotton Consultant pages may be attached, emailed or attached to the online nomination form.
Biographical/Industry Involvement Background. This information as well as support letters attached to this form, emailed may be or attached to the online nomination form.
Your Name: Mailing Address: City:
WEB EXCLUSIVE Louisiana State University AgCenter entomologists provide an identification guide to adult and immature plant bugs in cotton. Go to www.cotton farming.com for this Web Exclusive report.
DIGITAL OFFERINGS Keep up with the latest from Cotton Farming by signing up for the monthly E-News at www.cottonfarming.com. Look for the Cotton Farming E-News sign-up box in the upper right corner of the home page.
COTTON FARMING (ISSN 0746-8385) is published monthly January through December by One Grower Publishing LLC, 875 W. Poplar Ave., Suite 23, Box 305, Collierville, TN 38017. Periodicals postage paid at Memphis, Tennessee, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Omeda Communications, Customer Service Department, P.O. Box 1388, Northbrook, IL 60065-1388 (Phone: 847-559-7578) (Fax: 847-564-9453). Annual subscriptions are $40. International rates are $55 in Canada/Mexico, $90 in all other countries for air-speeded delivery. Surface delivery not available due to problems in reliability.
JULY 2021 | COTTON FARMING
EDITORIAL/PRODUCTION Editor Carroll Smith email@example.com Managing Editor Vicky Boyd firstname.lastname@example.org
A Way To Say Thank You
heir day typically begins before sunrise as they roll out of bed, pull on their boots and head to the fields. Their trucks are full of tools of the trade — cell phones, laptops, notebooks, sweep nets, drop cloths and maybe a pack of Nabs or protein bar to sustain them on the turnrows while they check your crops throughout the long, hot days. These are cotton consultants — most of whom will say their profession is more than a job. It’s personal. “My philosophy is that the relationships between a consultant and his farmers are built around trust — them trusting you and you earning their trust,” says Arkansas cotton consultant Eddy Cates. “Reliability is also important. At Cates Agri Tech, we are proud of the fact that we are very reliable, have years of experience in the field, and are willing and capable of adapting to change and new technology. But No. 1 is earning the farmer’s trust.” In Texas, cotton consultant Paul Pilsner says, “My philosophy is to treat these farms as if they were mine, and my goal is profitability.” Tim Roberts and Billy Beegle have been crop consulting partners since 1984 in Arkansas, Tennessee and the Missouri Bootheel. Roberts says they complement each other. “Billy and I have been with many of our farmers for more than 30 years and now work for some of their sons.” he says. “They all consider themselves ‘cotton farmers’ and want to continue growing cotton. Some years are more challenging than others, but the job is never boring. It’s intense, and we learn something new all the time.” To recognize the dedication and hard work of cotton consultants who put it all on the line for their farmers, Syngenta and Cotton Farming magazine have sponsored the Cotton Consultant of the Year award for more than four decades. Currently, we are seeking nominations for the 2021 Cotton Consultant of the Year. If you have a consultant who has outstanding customer relations, leadership and innovation, please go to cottonfarming.com/ccoy and nominate him or her. You also can fill out the nomination form on page 7 and scan/email it to me at email@example.com. Another option is to drop it in the mail to my physical address. I believe this is a good way to say thank you to the faithful individuals whose “footprints in the field” help increase your bottom line. Please let us hear from you today!
Southeast Editor Amanda Huber firstname.lastname@example.org Art Director Ashley Kumpe ADMINISTRATION Publisher/Vice President Lia Guthrie (901) 497-3689 email@example.com Associate Publisher Carroll Smith (901) 326-4443 Sales Manager Scott Emerson (386) 462-1532 firstname.lastname@example.org Production Manager Kathy Killingsworth (901) 767-4020 email@example.com Audience Services Kate Thomas (847) 559-7514 For subscription changes or change of address, call (847) 559-7578 or email firstname.lastname@example.org EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD David Burns – North Carolina David Lynch – South Carolina Bob McLendon – Georgia Larkin Martin – Alabama Mike Sturdivant Jr. – Mississippi Charles Parker – Missouri Jimmy Hargett – Tennessee Allen Helms – Arkansas Jay Hardwick – Louisiana Ronnie Hopper – Texas Ron Rayner – Arizona John Pucheu – California
ONE GROWER PUBLISHING, LLC Mike Lamensdorf President/Treasurer Lia Guthrie Publisher/Vice President ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COOPERATION: Cooperating with COTTON FARMING are various cotton producer organizations across the Cotton Belt. Many representatives of producer organizations serve on COTTON FARMING’s editorial advisory board. Opinions expressed and conclusions reached by contributors are not necessarily those of the cooperating organizations or the editors. All statements, including product claims, are those of the person or organization making the statement or claim. The publisher does not adopt any such statement or claims as its own and any such statement or claim does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the publisher. Copyright 2021 © ASSOCIATED PUBLICATIONS – One Grower Publishing, LLC also publishes RICE FARMING, THE PEANUT GROWER, SOYBEAN SOUTH and CORN SOUTH.
If you have comments, please send them to: Cotton Farming Magazine, 7201 Eastern Ave., Germantown, TN 38138.
COTTON FARMING | JULY 2021
One Grower Publishing, LLC
875 W. Poplar Ave., Suite 23, Box 305, Collierville, TN 38017 Phone: 901-767-4020
Cotton’s Agenda Gary Adams
Addressing A Disrupted Supply Chain For the past several months, the National Cotton Council has conveyed to the Administration serious concerns over ocean carrier/terminal practices at our ports that are negatively affecting U.S. cotton flow.
What has been requested?
■ Early in the year, the NCC joined other groups
on recommendations for the three major freight transportation modes to President Biden and later to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. Regarding ocean shipping, which had changed vastly, the groups expressed their strong support of the Federal Maritime Commission’s investigation of ocean carrier/terminal supply chain disrupting practices at U.S. ports. Among those were making containers unavailable to carry agricultural export cargo and canceling or refusing export container bookings. We emphasized that these maneuvers were increasing U.S. agricultural exporters’ costs and causing lost export opportunities.
those “loading windows.” These charges already had been determined to be unreasonable by the Maritime Commission. The groups pointed out that these carriers specifically were delivering massive volumes of imported shipments to U.S. ports and then electing to leave without refilling empty containers with American goods and products. Shipping containers filled with imported goods are normally unloaded, sent to rural areas, filled with agricultural commodities and then shipped abroad. However, the lucrative freight rates paid by the import cargo, combined with congestion and delay at ports on the West and East coasts were leading the carriers to immediately return empty containers to their overseas ports of origin. As such, we urged the Transportation Department to assist the Maritime Commission in expediting its enforcement options and consider its existing authorities to determine how it could assist with the transportation needs of the U.S. exporters and the farmers and ranchers they serve.
Any other actions?
■ In a briefing to the Maritime Commission, the
The NCC continues to engage with the U.S. government to restore the timely and affordable shipping of U.S. raw cotton, yarn, fabric and finished products. After the situation worsened, the NCC joined nearly 300 agriculture and forest products companies/associations in requesting the Transportation Department’s immediate intervention to protect U.S. exporters and their access to foreign markets. That’s because these vessel-operating common carriers were neglecting to provide timely notice to shippers of carrier arrival/departure times and cargo loading times. They then imposed hundreds of millions of dollars of punitive charges when the shippers missed
groups emphasized the importance of trade, especially to Asian markets, and noted the use of forward contracts necessitated timely shipping. A letter to President Biden regarding the carrier/marine terminal operator actions stated that unless the Shipping Act and other tools available to our government are applied promptly, U.S. agriculture will continue to suffer financial losses and will be noncompetitive for years to come. Nearly 100% of U.S. cotton production is exported as either raw fiber, yarn, fabric or finished product. Those exports were valued at $11 billion in 2019, the latest data available. While the NCC’s export promotions arm, Cotton Council International, has and continues to work aggressively and creatively to expand foreign demand for U.S. cotton fiber and cotton textile products, the NCC will keep engaging with the U.S. government to restore the timely and affordable shipping of those products.
Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America. He also serves as president of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol. TWITTER: @COTTONFARMING
JULY 2021 | COTTON FARMING
Competitive Bidding Pushes Land Prices Higher
nterest in purchasing agricultural land has grown since a coronavirus pandemic-induced slowdown blanketed the land market last spring, according to Farmers National Co. Producers are feeling more financially secure as strong commodity prices arrived on top of large government payments in 2020. This is propelling farmers to bid more aggressively for additional land than has been the case during the past six years. “Farmland sales prices are up 5% to 15% in the past six months with most of the increase coming since the first of the year,” says Randy Dickhut, senior vice president of real estate operations at Farmers National Co. “Competitive bidding among interested buyers is really pushing land prices right now.” Individual investors, both first-time and experienced buyers, are stepping into the land market as they search for a safe, longterm real estate investment in a low interest rate environment. Investor buyers seldom outbid farmer buyers for a good farm unless they have 1031 tax-deferred exchange funds to spend in a short time. Bidding And Listing Platforms
Currently, the demand for good farmland is outstripping the supply of farms for sale. During the previous few years, the number of farms for sale has been lower, but there remained enough demand in the farmland market to balance the lower supply, resulting in steady land prices. Currently, the strong demand to own farmland is one of the main factors pushing prices higher. “For the seller to get top dollar in the current land market, they have to ensure there is true competitive bidding,” Dickhut says. “Farmers National Co. and its agents employ the most comprehensive platform of competitive bidding systems available to get the best price for sellers, including public outcry auctions, a full array of online and simultaneous live auctions, various written bidding mechanisms, and other bidding or listing platforms.” Consider Potential Taxes
Buyers are actively pushing land prices in the Central and Southern Plains (Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas) as sales prices in some areas are nearing the highs of the past, according to Farmers National Co. “We are seeing land prices up 10% to 12% for good cropland in the area,” says Paul Schadegg, area sales manager for the firm. Prices for dryland farms in the Western Plains are strengthening, too, after a period of low demand. “There is now more demand for average to lower quality land than there has been for a number of years,” he says. The current agricultural land market has more buyers than sellers. The inventory of farms for sale is currently at a low point for all land brokers as buyers have been aggressively purchasing what has been listed for sale. “The prospect for higher commodity prices drives the demand for good cropland in the region. It is making farmers even more bullish to buy farmland,” Schadegg says. Competitive bidding among potential buyers is delivering the best sales prices to sellers in most areas. “If you want top dollar in my area, take it to auction and let people bid,” Schadegg says. “Also, buyers are being more aggressive bidding on traditional private treaty listings.” The expectation is for more farms and ranches to come up for sale as the year moves along due to the higher prices received and potential changes in tax policy.
sooner than later for some. Landowners who are thinking of selling their farm are now factoring in both the higher proceeds they would get from the sale and what potential tax obligations might be due. The land market will be balancing increased demand for good cropland against what might be an increasing supply of farms for sale. In a rising land market, it becomes more difficult to predict what a farm will sell for on any given day especially when there is demand from both farmers and investors, Dickhut says. “The best way to sell cropland in the current market is to take it to auction or some form of competitive bidding that brings together the potential buyers and lets them push the price.” Farmers National Co. contributed this article.
Higher land values will bring more sellers into the market as estates, trusts, recent inheritors and family groups decide to sell the farm or ranch and capture the higher prices. Also, uncertainty surrounding future tax policies will trigger a sale
More Buyers Than Sellers
COTTON FARMING | JULY 2021
Cotton Consultant of the Year 2021 NOMINATION FORM
CCOY The Cotton Consultant of the Year (CCOY) Award marks more than four decades. The award recognizes a consultant who has made great contributions to the cotton industry through outstanding customer relations, leadership and innovation. It honors a consultant who not only meets these requirements but also exceeds them. Syngenta and Cotton Farming magazine — CCOY sponsors — are soliciting your help in selecting the 2021 recipient, who will be named at a special celebration Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. The winning consultant and the person who nominates the winner receive a two-night hotel stay and airfare to Memphis. The 2021 CCOY recipient also will be featured in a four-page salute in the February 2022 issue of Cotton Farming.
Submit nominations by July 31, 2021. Mail: Carroll Smith 7201 Eastern Ave. Germantown, TN 38138 Scan/Email: email@example.com You can print an electronic version of the form located on the Cotton Farming website at www.cottonfarming.com. Nominate online: cottonfarming.com/ccoy
If you would like to nominate a consultant deserving of this outstanding recognition, please take a moment to fill out the following form. Please use a separate page for biographical/professional information. Additional recommendations via letters or emails from other farmers, consultants and industry members are also encouraged to provide support for the nominee. Consultant’s Name: Company Name: Mailing Address: City:
In your own words, please tell us why you are nominating the consultant above for the Cotton Consultant of the Year Award. Additional pages may be attached, emailed or attached to the online nomination form. Background:
Biographical/Industry Involvement Background. This information as well as support letters may be attached to this form, emailed or attached to the online nomination form.
Your Name: Mailing Address: City:
Lee Ott and his daughter, Bailee Ott Snyder, established Lobo Farms in 2018. Last year, they planted ST 4990B3XF and won the Stoneville Legacy Club highest yield in the West region (irrigated) with 2,903 pounds per acre.
Lobo Farms Father/Daughter Team Rocks Cotton In Arizona BY CARROLL SMITH EDITOR
he dust storms that terrorized America’s High Plains in the darkest years of the Depression were like nothing ever seen before. In “The Worst Hard Time,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist and author Timothy Egan tells the epic story of this environmental disaster and its impact on the community stricken with fear and choked by dust in the ‘dirty thirties,’” says the teaser on the back cover of the book. “In parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, it seemed on many days as if a curtain were being drawn across a vast stage at world’s end,” Egan wrote. “The land convulsed in a way that had never been seen before, and it did so at a time when one out of every four adults was out of work.” During an interview in 2014 with the Arizona Farm Bureau,
COTTON FARMING | JULY 2021
cotton farmer Lee Ott recalled the circumstances under which his family left the High Plains and relocated to the Copper State. “I am a fourth-generation farmer in Yuma County,” Lee says. “My great grandfather came here from Oklahoma during the Great Depression. They were on their way to California to pick fruit when the car broke down in Yuma. They stayed here, living under a billboard sign and found work picking cotton by hand. Eventually, they homesteaded in the North Gila Valley where they began farming 60 acres, doing custom hay work and also working in the mines.” The decision to escape the Dust Bowl and move out West turned out to be a good one for the Ott family. Lee and his brother, Larry, currently farm about 6,800 acres, which includes 1,000 acres of cotton, across Yuma County and the Bard area of California. In addition to the Gila Valley Farms operation, Lee COTTONFARMING.COM
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OTT FAMILY
also is in partnership with his daughter, Bailee Ott Snyder, on Lobo Farms where they grow cotton, lemons and alfalfa. “When Bailee was a little girl, my wife, Candy, worked fulltime and Bailee was enrolled in daycare,” Lee says. “She absolutely hated it, so I had to pick her up every day about midmorning so she could spend the rest of the day on the farm. Eventually, she was unenrolled from daycare and went to work with me instead.” “I enjoyed riding my tricycle around the shop while my dad worked on equipment much more than I enjoyed being at daycare!” Bailee says. “Sitting in the tractor all day with my dad cultivating cotton and driving around checking fields for water are some of my earliest childhood memories.” Lobo Farms Established
The young Arizonan describes herself as “a very busy kid growing up” who was instilled with a strong work ethic at a young age. “I began farming on my own when I was in high school as part of my Supervised Agricultural Experience for FFA,” Bailee says. “I started with 36 acres of wheat and shortly after expanded my operation to include some alfalfa. Starting my own farming operation helped me win my FFA chapter’s Star Farmer Degree, which is awarded to the chapter member who has an outstanding SAE in production agriculture.” After graduating from the University of Arizona in 2017, Bailee expressed an interest in farming again. “I asked my dad if he would teach me about farming cotton,” she says. “As an only child, I felt it was important for me to learn this trade from him. In 2018, we decided to partner up and registered Lobo Farms, which is in Yuma County as an LLC. The name is short for Lee Ott and Bailee Ott.” Because Yuma County is situated on the Colorado River, Lee and Bailee say Lobo Farms is blessed to have an available water source, as of now. “While all our cotton is flood irrigated, we take as many measures as possible to conserve our precious water,” she says.
In 1997, Bailee poses with her father, Lee Ott, and her mother, Candy Ott, in an Arizona cotton field. Balancing Careers
Bailee, who holds a degree in agricultural technology and systems management, is also in her fourth year as a pest control adviser for Wilbur-Ellis Co. in Yuma, Arizona, and the surrounding area. “As a PCA, I specialize in pest and disease management and make recommendations to growers on ways to control and/ or treat issues related to pests and diseases,” she says. “I scout a wide range of crops and am involved in fertilizer sales. The crops I am responsible for include cotton, lettuce, romaine, broccoli (organic and conventional), cauliflower, spinach, spring mix, wheat, alfalfa and some seed crops. “I believe being directly involved with production agriculture helps me to be a better PCA and vice versa. On one hand, being a PCA helps me understand the importance of fertilizer applications and being aggressive with pest control. On the other hand, being a grower means I must understand budgets and keep an eye on costs. Both roles are equally important as I
BAILEE OTT SNYDER
Lobo Farms is flood irrigated through a series of ditches and canals like this one in Yuma County, Arizona, that are fed by the Colorado River.
JULY 2021 | COTTON FARMING
BAILEE OTT SNYDER
balance being a PCA as well as a cotton grower.” Bailee’s husband, Jake Snyder, who is a PCA for another company, is also involved with Lobo Farms. He spends his time after work and on the weekends helping with the tractors, irrigating, controlling weeds, and lending a hand with fertilizer applications or anything else that may be needed. “Jake plays a vital role in making sure everything gets done in an efficient manner,” she says. “My mom, Candy, who comes from three farming generations, assists us with the bookwork and brings lunch to the field during our busy time.” Outstanding Cotton Yields
Lee says 2020 was “the best cotton year we’ve ever had as far as yields go. We had favorable weather conditions and heat units for almost the entire season.” Two varieties that performed particularly well last year on Lobo Farms were ST4990 B3XF and NexGen 5711 B3XF. When asked what she thought contributed to the exceptionally high yields, Bailee offered this theory. “In the past few years, we have focused more attention on our fertilizer inputs,” she says. “As a PCA, I have learned the importance of using fertilizer blends and maintaining proper timing to apply different types of fertilizer, depending on the growth stage of the plant. I believe an aggressive fertilizer program plays a huge role in a high-yielding crop.” In 2020, Lobo Farms was recognized as the Stoneville Legacy Club highest yield winner in the West region in the irrigated division with 2,903 pounds per acre. According to BASF, the club “honors cotton growers across the entire Cotton Belt who pair the high-caliber performance and premium quality of Stoneville cotton with their own skills to maximize yields.” “We planted ST 4990B3XF on our winning cotton block,” Bailee says. “It was a great fit in our operation and exceeded all our expectations.” Lee agrees. “This was the highest yielding cotton block I have ever farmed,” he says. “A typical yield for us is usually around 3.3 to 3.5 bales per acre.” Another variety that finished with an excellent yield on Lobo Farms last year was NexGen 5711 B3XF at 4.6 bales per acre.
This block of lemons is 1 ½ years old and typically will start producing fruit between the fourth and fifth years. “The cotton on Lobo Farms is grown in a different area of the Gila Valley where produce isn’t grown because the soil is so sandy,” Bailee says. “This means we can let the cotton season go longer there versus ground that gets rotated into produce. We picked the 5711cotton in December, so it had a much longer growing period than our other cotton blocks.” This year, the father/daughter team is growing ST 4990B3XF, NexGen 5711 B3XF and ST 4550GLTP on Lobo Farms with the hope that the current season will be as successful as the one they experienced in 2020. A Satisfying Way Of Life
When asked what inspires them to get up every day and give it their best, both Lee and Bailee expressed a love for farming and its lifestyle. “Every day comes with different hurdles and challenges to overcome,” Lee says. “I like having the freedom to work outside and be my own boss.” Bailee, who showed cattle from the age of 9 to 19, began driving a tractor at 14 and started farming on her own at 17, was “a very busy kid with a strong work ethic.” But she insists she wouldn’t have it any other way. “Needless to say, I really don’t know anything different other than maintaining a pretty active schedule that I enjoy.”
All the cotton on Lobo Farms is ginned at YUCO Gin in Yuma, Arizona. In 2020, this field of NexGen 5711 B3XF was harvested in December on ground that was not rotated into produce. It yielded 4.6 bales per acre.
COTTON FARMING | JULY 2021
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Walter Francis Little, Jr.
alter Francis Little, Jr., 93, of Germantown, TN, passed away on May 20, 2021. He was the son of the late Walter F. Little, Sr. and Josephine Bailey Little of Leland, MS, and Charleston, SC. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Beverly Cox Little, and son Dr. Walter Little, III, a urologist in Hendersonville, TN, and his wife Dr. Shannon Little; a daughter, Dr. Vicki Little Chandler of Eads, TN, a nurse practitioner and an assistant professor at UTHSC, College of Nursing, and her husband, Stephen W. Chandler; and grandchildren AnMei Little and Jonathan, Matthew, Joshua Chandler. He was preceded in death by his youngest son, Jeffrey Thomas Little. He considered his greatest achievement finding a beautiful, kind wife as a lifelong companion who lovingly nurtured their children. Mr. Little served in the U.S. Army as enlisted men’s counselor at the close of WWII. He was a 60+ year member of Second Presbyterian Church, Memphis, where he served earlier as an usher and later was on the board of deacons. He was a member of the Jeb Russell Sunday School Class. His early years were spent in Charleston, SC, where he
COTTON FARMING | JULY 2021
was an ardent amateur sailor competing in summer regattas, enjoying tennis with friends and hunting in the nearby Santee River Swamp with his father. Mr. Little was a Phi Beta Kappa, Magna Cum Laude graduate of Washington & Lee University where he was a member of the Kappa Alpha Order founded at W&L during General Robert E. Lee’s presidency. Mr. Little started his business career at the Greenville (MS) Delta Democrat-Times under the Pulitzer Prize winning editor, the late Hodding Carter. He resigned to become assistant manager of Delta Council, Stoneville, MS, and then advertising manager of the Yazoo City (MS) Herald. At 29, he founded Little Publications, Inc., in Memphis and pioneered the publishing of national specialty magazines for agriculture, including Cotton Farming, Rice Farming, Soybean South and Custom Applicator. The publications were sold at his retirement and are still being successfully published today with offices in Memphis. He was a former director on the board of the National Agri-Marketing Association, Chicago, and the past-president of its Mid-South chapter. COTTONFARMING.COM
Founder Reflects On Magazine’s Rich History Publisher’s note: In January 2007, Cotton Farming magazine celebrated 50 years of bringing profitable production strategies to U.S. cotton farmers. The Golden Anniversary was commemorated by publishing a special issue dedicated to an industry that is steeped in tradition, has seen a lot of changes, faced many challenges and yet continues to move forward. As the founder of Cotton Farming, Walter Little wrote a letter to its readers in which he recalls some of the highlights through those 50 years from his perspective.
ear Reader: Since we spend our lives working, a wise man once told me to find something enjoyable. I followed that advice (my father’s) by founding Cotton Farming magazine 50 years ago. I didn’t find it enjoyable...it was plain fun. Some of the reasons were the many, many producers and farm leaders like you that I met over the years in traveling from California to the Carolinas. I’ve long suspected that you are a self-sufficient happy lot, enjoying the outdoor life and the inside coffee shop talk with fellow farmers — in between the grumbling about prices and weather. As pubished in Cotton Farming Speaking of prices, when magazine January 2007 Cotton Farming started, the cotton picker on my father’s Mississippi place cost a fraction of what it costs today. Fuel was 19 cents a gallon. And cotton was bringing 30 cents a pound. Speaking of weather, not all of it was fair. In many areas, 1957, our first year, saw a bumper crop turn into disaster. 14.3 million acres were planted, but steady rains started before harvest and extended into December. The end result: only 10.9 million bales were harvested. Perhaps that was one of the reasons a Memphis businessman greeted me with skepticism when I was introduced as a youngster from the country starting a magazine for cotton. With a rather disconcerting laugh, he said, “Isn’t that like starting a BLACKSMITH JOURNAL? In a year or two, nobody will be planting cotton!” Fortunately, all of you proved him wrong. Cotton production now is about twice what it was in 1957, and this year’s crop is being produced on almost the same acreage that was planted back then. Contributors to cotton’s longevity on farms east and ranches west include: experiment stations, Extension service, consultants, National Cotton Council and continuing innovations in seed, equipment and chemicals. Way back, there was one selective herbicide and “incorporation” referred only to companies. I recall an early visit on an oldtimer’s Texas place. He challenged the intelligence of the weed killer he would not use: “Don’t you try to tell me that stuff knows the difference between my cotton and all those weeds!” In the field of education and spreading the information that modern producers need to survive, I believe that Cotton Farming and its dedicated staff have played a vital part. Our editors find visiting farmers for articles very rewarding. You producers are hospitable, ready to share secrets of success and generous with your time. Cotton Farming continues to improve with age. To assure its continuing commitment to service, Tommy Horton is the editor. He was brought on board nearly eight years ago from the National Cotton Council’s Communications Services departTWITTER: @COTTONFARMING
ment. Carroll Headley Smith, the senior writer for the magazine, previously worked for Cotton Farming in the 1980s and early 1990s and wrote the first article on a woman cotton producer many years ago. Amanda Huber, who resides in Bronson, Fla., covers cotton production in the Southeast while also serving as editor of Peanut Grower, a sister publication of Cotton Farming. Carol Watson, our talented graphic artist, has redesigned and improved the covers to set industry trends. Another staffer with valuable experience is Kathy Killingsworth, who handles many difficult details as production manager. Janet Owens, circulation manager, successfully makes sure cotton producers everywhere are blanketed by the magazine. Debbie Guthrie, our sales manager based in Tifton, Ga., brings many years of experience as she calls on important regional accounts throughout the Belt. Just recently, Cotton Farming grew even stronger under new joint owners. One — Mike Lamensdorf — is a successful cotton producer from a longtime Delta cotton farming family. He knows firsthand of what he speaks. The other owner is Lia Guthrie, a seasoned staffer known and respected throughout the industry. She’s a Mississippi farmer’s daughter. So, very real cotton industry ties continue in charge of your magazine. I’m pleased — and just a bit envious. Cotton Farming has come a long way and is stronger and better for it. May it keep on serving for another successful 50 years. Sincerely, Walter Little JULY 2021 | COTTON FARMING
The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation 2021 Summer Commodity Conference will be held July 21-22 in Jackson, Mississippi. On July 21, MFBF President Mike McCormick will host a reception for conference participants at 5:30 p.m. at the MFBF building, 6311 Ridgewood Road, Jackson. The conference will be held July 22 at the Mississippi Trade Mart Center on the Mississippi State Fairgrounds, 1200 Mississippi Street, Jackson. Registration begins at 9 a.m., and the meeting begins at 10 a.m. Speakers during the general session and major segment tracks include: Dr. Harry Vroomen, vice president of economic services, The Fertilizer Institute. Tanner Ehmke, lead economist, Knowledge Exchange Division, CoBank ACB. Andrew Walmsley, director of congressional affairs, American Farm Bureau Federation. Lunch will be provided at the conclusion of the major segment tracks. Individual commodity breakout sessions will follow. To register, go to https://bit. ly/35gjrwK. For more information, contact your Farm Bureau regional manager.
Online Program For New Landowners, Ag Operations The Generation Next: Our Turn to Ranch online course is open for registration. The 12-week program, offered by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, runs from Aug. 16- Nov. 7. The program cost is $300, and it is limited to the first 100 registrants. Participants should register as soon as possible at http://bit.ly/OurTurntoRanch. Dr. Megan Clayton, AgriLife Extension range specialist, Corpus Christi, says the program targets new landowners, those who are inheriting land or those who are looking to start a new agricultural operation on an existing ranch. The online school allows participants to work toward developing a business plan with support from professionals who specialize in each field and topic. It will address everything from tax implications and insurance needs to developing grazing or wildlife leases. Attendees will hear from experts who
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PHOTO COURTESY U.S. BUREAU OF RECLAMATION
MFBF Hosts Summer Commodity Conference
Repairs to the Delta-Mendota Canal in California’s Central Valley would be eligible for part of $1.51 billion in proposed U.S. Bureau of Reclamation infrastructure funding.
National Coalition Presses For Water Supply Infrastructure Citing an “acute and critical need” magnified by another all-too-familiar drought, a national coalition representing thousands of Western farmers, ranchers, water providers, businesses and communities recently urged Senate leaders to take action on the shortcomings of aging water infrastructure. In a letter to Chairman Joe Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the coalition said federal investment in a diversified water management portfolio that serves a broad range of water uses must be included as essential infrastructure in the next legislative package. The coalition includes more than 220 organizations from 15 states that collectively represent $120 billion in agricultural production — nearly one-third of all agricultural production in the country — and many of the local and regional public water agencies that supply water to more than 75 million urban, suburban and rural residents. The coalition warned that changing hydrological conditions and an expanding population in the West raise concerns about the future viability of the nation’s water infrastructure. To keep water flowing to farms, ranches, cities and the environment, the coalition said substantial federal investment is needed to bolster deteriorating storage and conveyance facilities and build new ones. As part of a comprehensive water management portfolio, the coalition identified: More than $13 billion in Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure needs over the next 10 years, including storage and conveyance, dam safety, rural water, water-smart technologies, and water recycling and reuse projects. $34 billion for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to undertake forest restoration, watershed protection and flood prevention projects. $1.75 billion for Army Corps of Engineers water storage projects and environmental infrastructure. The coalition concluded the letter with a call for Congress to streamline regulation and permitting processes, along with other reforms, to ensure the timely construction of federal water projects as part of President Biden’s jobs and economic recovery plan. will cover land management techniques and resources, alternative ranching, ecotourism opportunities and direct marketing. Clayton says participants should plan to spend about two hours per week on the lesson and activities. Past participants have said the course is easy to follow and the presentations
were informative and professional. Many people who have taken the course say they have received so much information beneficial to running a ranch, including “a lot they didn’t even know they should know.” For more information, contact Clayton at 361-265-9203. COTTONFARMING.COM
Getting To Know Grant Saum BY STACEY GORMAN WARREN, ARKANSAS
arlier this year, The Cotton Board hired Grant Saum as its new Mid-South regional communication manager. His territory includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. The RCMs work to ensure that stakeholders of the Cotton Research and Promotion Program in their respective territories are informed about program activities. These pursuits are conducted by Cotton Incorporated and administered by the Cotton Board. They also visit producers in the field, speak at industry meetings, participate in trade shows and coordinate producer tours of Cotton Incorporated. To help Mid-South growers get to know their new regional communication manager, I asked Grant to answer these questions:
Tell us about yourself and your work in the cotton industry.
I have spent all my life around row crops and livestock. Growing up in Ramer, Tennessee, I was very active in livestock showing and FFA. During the 2012-13 school year, I was elected FFA treasurer for the state of Tennessee. That year, my love for agriculture developed even further as I had the opportunity to travel across the state and visit with farmers, schools and companies that were all advocating for agriculture. I attended college at the University of Tennessee at Martin, where I graduated with a degree in agribusiness and a minor in business administration. After college, I went to work on the retail side of ag as a seed salesman for Winfield United under the brand name Croplan. My time in retail has given me a solid foundation in agronomy and strengthened my understanding of the day-today needs of growers.
What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
I’m looking forward to working directly with cotton growers. I want
to strengthen my existing relationships and cultivate new ones with the cotton growers and leaders within the MidSouth. Since starting with The Cotton Board in January, I’ve gotten the chance to go out and meet some of the growers and industry partners in my region. I’m so impressed by their dedication to sustainably producing fiber for the world. I’m hopeful that working alongside some of the most influential leaders in the cotton and agricultural sectors will allow me to grow my leadership skills so I can help push the cotton industry forward.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about The Cotton Research and Promotion Program in your time with The Cotton Board?
I’ve been very surprised to learn about the promotional work conducted by the Cotton Research and Promotion Program. Coming from a farming background, I always knew about the ag research work, but the number of resources put toward the promotion and marketing side is great. Cotton Incorporated does an excellent
job reaching consumers and giving them reasons to purchase cotton products. There are so many programs behind the scenes to help drive demand for cotton and continue to help consumers view cotton as The Fabric of Our Lives.
What makes you passionate about the cotton industry?
I am proud to be part of an industry with such a profound impact on feeding and clothing the world. Cotton is used in so many ways and has a far-reaching effect on people’s everyday lives. The evolution of the U.S. cotton industry is also fascinating. The cotton producers I get to work for have led the way in embracing new technology and sustainable production practices, and that is pretty inspiring. For more information about Grant and the work of The Cotton Board’s regional communication managers, please visit cottonboard.org/producers.
Stacey Gorman is The Cotton Board’s director of communications. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. JULY 2021 | COTTON FARMING
Midseason Management ALABAMA Steve M. Brown
This is supposed to be about midseason management. I listen to my esteemed colleague from Arizona Dr. Randy Norton talk about growing cotton in the desert. I am amazed at what they know and how they go about producing the crop. It’s like following a recipe. So many aspects of their production system seem precise and exact. Yes, they are subject to seasonal variations in heat units, which affects their productivity, and they probably worry about water. But more often than not, they make big yields and pick high-quality cotton under near-perfect conditions. Almost like growing cotton in a greenhouse. Precise, exact, predictable — it’s not like that here. I don’t mean to minimize the challenges growers face in other environments, but I want to paint a contrast. In the Lower Southeast, weather and pest variables are numerous. They fluctuate WILDLY. We know how to grow cotton. We have our recipe, so to speak. But with changing conditions and pest issues, we must figure out how to manage this crop amid a unique growing environment. Maximizing our opportunities requires adjusting as the season progresses, carefully thinking through what might be tweaked, altered or scrapped altogether. Championship ball teams sometimes win because they dominate their challengers, but often — especially with intense competition — they win because they make the best adjustments. They figure out how to do some things better to meet the specific tests imposed upon them. Our crop is late. Appropriate adjustments typically mean being more conservative with nitrogen, more aggressive with plant growth regulators, more vigilant with insect management, and minimizing stress if we can irrigate. We make these adjustments with considerations for rainfall, temperature, crop progress, calendar date, etc. Tweaking. Altering. Changing. Adjusting. One grower said to me recently, “No two years are the same; you’ve got to deal with what’s happening here and now.” Precisely. cottonbrown@ auburn.edu
ARKANSAS Bill Robertson
While at this point of the season in 2020 we could have described the crop as being late, we are just as late or later and far wetter in 2021. For some, about 20 inches in just a few days wetter. The March Prospective Plantings report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture-National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated cotton plantings in Arkansas at 490,000 acres, down 7% from the 525,000 acres planted last year. With planting delays experienced this season and favorable crop alternatives, our acres will probably land near 450,000 acres, down 15% from last year. Losses due to flooding will most likely result in greater abandonment rates than we typically see in Arkansas. We expect to see flowers by July 4 on May 1 planted cotton. We likely will see just a few flowers by Independence Day this year. With more than half our crop going in the ground the last half of May coupled with record breaking cold temperatures over Memorial Day weekend, first flowers on many fields may be as late as July 15-20. Ideally, at first flower we will find nine to 10 first-position fruit above the first white flower. This verifies we have the foundation to establish and develop high yield and fiber quality potentials. Our goal is to maintain no less than 80% retention going into first flower. With our current maturity status, we have no cushion for mistakes. We must concentrate
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on the basics. This includes avoiding excessive nitrogen rates and striving for well-timed irrigation. Maintaining a balance between vegetative and reproductive growth will help optimize earliness and preserve yield and fiber potential. An effective fruiting window of three weeks between first flower and cutout (NAWF=5) will provide the yield and earliness we need this season. Contact your local county Extension agent for more information. email@example.com
FLORIDA David Wright
June is the month to fight weeds in cotton and July is the time to manage growth, finish up fertility needs and control late season weed escapes. In fields that normally have high growth rates, first applications of growth regulators should be applied at eighth node or before and around 15-18 inches plant height. Last nitrogen applications should be made at the latest by or before the third week of bloom. Our data shows that N put out for the first application after this time, such as fifth or sixth week of bloom, would not yield any more than cotton with no N applied. Better to put out N early — from squaring until to first bloom — which would be about from mid-June to July 1 when blooming starts. There are many new commercial cotton varieties that have three Bt genes for insect control. Fields should be scouted for problem insects and weeds. Control weeds when they are as small as possible to get better results and often use lower herbicide rates. Much of our cotton was planted under dry conditions. Weed escapes often get by growers who are busy with other management duties, so directed sprays may be needed to control large weeds. The latter part of May was dry, so many farmers finished planting their crop in June after the rains came. However, the cotton came up and is doing well. If timely rains continue in August and early September, the cotton crop has good potential. firstname.lastname@example.org
GEORGIA Camp Hand
We finally made it through planting. It was a rough stretch of being too cool and wet, followed by too hot and dry, followed by too wet, but Georgia growers did not waver. At this point, much of our crop is squaring, and we need to shift to midseason management. Here are a few thoughts: Weed control at squaring or flowering should be nearly complete. Although many will opt for a third postemergence application over the top, one of the best choices for resistance management is a layby application. Diuron plus MSMA is the go-to for Palmer amaranth control, but glyphosate can be substituted for MSMA to help with grass control. Envoke herbicide can be added to either mix for morningglory control. Dr. Bob Kemerait says it is time to start thinking about foliar diseases, such as target spot and areolate mildew. If necessary, initiate fungicide applications at flowering. Sidedress nitrogen should be applied between squaring and first flower. Dr. Glen Harris recommends applying N closer to first square for growers who think they lost some nitrogen from the big rains we had at the end of April. Harris also says there is no need to panic and sidedress a lot of potassium. It isn’t as leachable as nitrogen, and the University of Georgia trials have shown minimal benefits from split potassium applications. It is time to start thinking plant growth regulator applications. In COTTONFARMING.COM
Specialists Speaking fields with high growth potential (i.e. high fertility, irrigated, aggressive varieties, history of rank growth, etc.) pre-bloom applications may be necessary. As with any other pesticide application, timeliness is key in terms of managing growth. As always, your local UGA county extension agent, and specialists, are here to help! Reach out if you have any questions. email@example.com
LOUISIANA Matt Foster
It’s been a difficult year for Louisiana cotton. As I write this June 13, about 90% of the crop has been planted, and most growers will finish within the next few days. Most of the cotton crop was planted in late May and early June. A significant number of growers planted their intended cotton acreage to soybeans. A few growers have said, “This is the first time in 40 years that I haven’t planted cotton.” Several cotton gins have stated they don’t plan on operating this year. Even though wet conditions have made nitrogen applications following emergence and weed management very difficult, the cotton crop throughout the state looks good. Thrips pressure was heavy enough in some areas to justify foliar insecticide applications. About 20% of the crop is squaring. Since squaring began, populations of aphids, fleahoppers and plant bugs haven’t reached treatable levels in most parts of the state. As more of the crop begins to square, growers and consultants will focus on square retention and managing plant height with plant growth regulators. Once cotton reaches match head square stage, monitor plant growth, environmental conditions and square load. A few factors to take into consideration when planning for pre-bloom PGR applications include variety growth habits, soil type and total nitrogen available to the crop. PGR applications should be based on current plant growth characteristics and the anticipated growth rate determined from expected growing conditions for the next seven to 10 days. firstname.lastname@example.org
MISSISSIPPI Brian Pieralisi
The 2021 Mississippi cotton season has been anything but desirable since it began in early May. Short planting windows followed by extended wet periods have made it almost impossible to plant on time. Continued cloudy, wet conditions have prevailed through mid-June, confounding all management strategies to date. From June 1 to June 8, we have accumulated 6 inches of rain in most areas and about 115 heat units, which was better than some weeks where we averaged less than 10 daily heat units. From a mid-season management standpoint, the primary limiting factor is the environment. We need sunshine and favorable growing conditions to get the crop moving in the right direction to implement management strategies. Cotton planted as early as April 28 has only accumulated 410 heat units and is almost stationary at the five-leaf stage. A comparable crop with adequate growing conditions would have accumulated more than 425 heat units, have eight-plus nodes and be on the brink of the first plant growth regulator application. We have planting dates scattered across the month of May and into early June, with not much separation in the growth of any of the cotton. Days keep ticking away with little growth productivity due to environmental conditions suppressing growth. I like to stay hopefully optimistic that these conditions will soon pass out of our region, and we can turn this crop around. Crop delays and yield reductions are primarily due to things out of our control. But there are strategies to consider as we move forward with the 2021 crop. Thrips pressure has been high across the state, with most cotton locations receiving two foliar applications to date. Continued monitoring for insect pests through June is paramount, protecting first position fruit and keeping the first fruiting branch at fifth or sixth main stem node to TWITTER: @COTTONFARMING
protect yield potential and avoid further maturity delays. Also, late crops and wet conditions only complicate nitrogen strategies. Carefully consider N losses (denitrification or leaching) before making applications outside of the target rate to avoid late season excess nitrogen issues. I suspect most of our crop will have a shallow root system from all the wet weather we have experienced during root development. Shallow roots often lead to nutrient deficiency symptomology despite having adequate nutrient availability in the soil profile. Finally, pay attention to thin cuticles on the leaf surface when applying PRE herbicides in conjunction with other herbicides and insecticides. This could lead to additional plant burn and further setbacks. bkp4@ msstate.edu
NORTH CAROLINA Guy Collins
As I write this June 4, planting is essentially complete, and a few folks are replanting some fields or parts of fields. The 2021 planting season brought its share of challenges with spells of cool weather and gradually decreasing soil moisture. But most folks were able to get their intended acreage in the ground, albeit later in the planting window in several areas. At this point, we still don’t know exactly what we have in terms of plant stands for cotton planted during the latter part of May, since some seed were dusted in intentionally or unintentionally. Several areas across the state received much-needed rainfall in varying amounts over the Memorial Day weekend and throughout the first week of June. Hopefully, this will get the crop going. But more rain will be needed during critical fruiting periods to ensure high yields. Planting season challenges will be realized for quite a while in that we can expect the crop to be later than normal. Even for fields planted in mid-May, emergence was delayed due to insufficient soil moisture for some or most plants. We will have varying crop maturity within most fields with some plants that emerged normally, some that emerged slowly due to cool weather, some that germinated but didn’t have enough moisture to reach full emergence, and some seed that were dusted in and didn’t germinate/emerge until early June or later. This is important to keep in mind in all aspects of management. Regarding PGRs, there is a need to manage for earliness, but timeliness is more important than using aggressive strategies or high rates so the shorter cotton isn’t penalized. As far as insect management, particularly lygus and stink bugs, we need to be timely with any necessary sprays. But we might also expect a longer window in which to manage insects. This will be determined by the weather in July and August, which could have a drastic effect on overall maturity. email@example.com
OKLAHOMA Seth Byrd
As I write this in mid-June, cotton planting is nearly complete in Oklahoma. There is still some dryland cotton left to go in as rainfall and cool weather throughout May created short planting windows. This resulted in cotton being planted between early May and mid-June across the state. Most of the crop was planted into good moisture, which has allowed for rapid emergence. However, cooler-than-normal temperatures slowed early season growth. For many May-planted fields, achieving first true leaf was a painfully slow process. This increased the need for over-sprays to address thrips pressure in many areas, which could translate into delayed maturity if not adequately carried out. With fair to good moisture beneath much of the crop, we’re hopeful to encounter little to no stress prior to the squaring stage. As is often the case in Oklahoma, we’ll likely be back to needing rain once we’ve reached reproductive growth, particularly for the dryland crop. JULY 2021 | COTTON FARMING
Specialists Speaking Another looming concern is the lack of rain that’s been captured by the lake that supplies irrigation water in the Lugert-Altus irrigation district. To say the per-acre allocation under current conditions is low would be an understatement. While much of the production area to the south of the lake has received enough rainfall to allow for favorable planting conditions, significant precipitation seemed to dodge the lake throughout May. This will force some difficult decisions if the current situation continues, although a few good rain showers in the right places could ease a lot of present concerns. In other areas, producers should keep an eye on crop progress as we didn’t have the typical May heat to drive early season growth. Understanding the calendar from the crop’s perspective will be key as we monitor key growth stages, such as squaring and first bloom. If we continue to run slightly behind, the way we manage inputs may need to be adjusted for what could be a shorter season than our planting dates suggest. firstname.lastname@example.org
TENNESSEE Tyson Raper
I believe we will be talking about the 2021 spring for decades. Although May finally provided a planting window during the last two weeks of the month, Memorial Day weekend included two nights in the 40- to 50-degree Fahrenheit temperature range and much less sunshine than you might expect. I had high hopes for a relatively hot, dry June — just what we needed to speed this crop along. Unfortunately, as I write this June 7, the best way to describe the month would be near-daily rainfall from an incessant cloud, which the forecast indicates may persist for at least another week. The crop, which was already late, is trudging out of the gate with thrips anxiously awaiting. Every activity from here until October must encourage earliness. As we move into July, I’m focused on plant growth and plant bugs. When the crop finally takes off, vegetative growth should be held in check with reduced nitrogen rates and proper plant height management. The importance of retaining first position fruit low on the plant cannot be overstated. We may not have the fall to mature out second or tertiary fruit higher on the plant. Regarding plant bugs, I’m maintaining thresholds with no tolerances. If we emphasize earliness with these activities, we should still have a chance at a good crop. email@example.com
TEXAS Ben McKnight
About 60% of Texas cotton acres have been planted as I write this June 8. At this same time last year and over the past five years, total planted acres have been around 72%. Untimely rainfall is to blame for the statewide planted acres being 12% below the five-year average. I’m not complaining about the extra rain that has fallen across some very dry parts of the state. But it would be nice if Mother Nature hit the pause button until we get the remaining cotton acres in the ground. Areas of the Upper Gulf Coast, Coastal Bend and Lower Rio Grande Valley have received a lot of rain over the past weeks. In the worst cases, floodwater inundated cotton fields, either totally or partially, and it takes a while to get water off the fields. In other cases where water has moved off, continued rainfall has left cotton enduring extremely saturated soil conditions for prolonged periods. I have been asked about cotton’s ability to handle flooded or saturated conditions and the timeliness of plant growth regulator application following these rain events. When pore spaces in soil that are normally occupied by air become entirely occupied by water, oxygen is depleted, and cotton plants cannot maintain normal respiration. While cotton can tolerate saturated conditions for quite some time, plant growth will be slow, resulting in delayed development. This can delay maturity later in the season. Additionally,
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some areas of a field may remain waterlogged for longer periods than others. When this happens, plants in these parts of the field take longer to resume normal growth when conditions finally improve. Variability in plant uniformity makes later management decisions more complicated. Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix. When conditions improve, the plant may go through a lag phase before photosynthesis and plant hormone production is restored to more normal levels to allow typical growth and development to resume. As conditions improve, growers may want to apply a plant growth regulator to control vegetative growth and plant size. Applying PGRs to cotton that has been under stress from too much moisture may result in a yield potential decrease if applied too early. Monitor fields frequently and closely inspect plant growth following these conditions to determine the right time to proceed with a PGR application. Growers also should consult with their seed company representatives for recommended PGR management of specific varieties. firstname.lastname@example.org
TEXAS Murilo Maeda
By the time you receive this issue of Cotton Farming, planting will be complete in the Texas High Plains. Early on, we were concerned about moisture (or lack thereof) coming into planting season. But just like I was told when coming to West Texas, things can quickly change around here. This year we went from waiting for a planting rain to struggling to get everything planted in a timely manner between rains. Hailstorms seem to have been more isolated than in years past. Although there has been some significant damage that warranted replants, those cases were not widespread. Overall, the cotton that is up as I write this in early June looks good, with some exceptions. Because we have good soil moisture, I assume many will accept a reduced insurance coverage to extend the planting period for a few days to get the crop in. While this is understandable, we need to watch crop development very closely since a lot of acres will be planted in the latter part of our optimum planting window. Late-planted fields should be managed for earliness. It is important to leverage plant growth regulators where appropriate to curtail excessive vegetative growth. Remember that split applications starting at seven to eight nodes are usually better than one big shot. Avoid PGRs if the crop is under stress or likely to be under stress soon. As always, establishing realistic yield goals and adjusting fertility programs accordingly is the way to go. I hope your crop is off to a good start and wish you a great 2021 cotton season! email@example.com
VIRGINIA Hunter Frame
As we move into July side-dressing, cotton will be in full swing along with insect and plant growth regulator sprays. In-season management will be tricky this year as cotton planted mid- to late May will likely have two emergence dates due to dry weather. Take into consideration the crop will be at different growth stages when applying PGRs. Take care not to apply them at high rates on cotton that emerged after the Memorial Day weekend rains. This may mean spraying PGRs only one time to avoid adverse PGR applications on late emerging cotton. Remember to scout routinely for pests such as tarnished plant bug in squaring cotton. Use either a sweep net or square retention counts, the latter being the time saving technique. Consult Virginia’s plant bug thresholds for treatment recommendations. Also, numerous years of research have shown that a total nitrogen application rate of 120 pounds N per acre is needed to maximize the state’s cotton lint yields. Applications exceeding this rate will not provide a return on investment and may be detrimental to yield. firstname.lastname@example.org COTTONFARMING.COM
WHITNEY HAIGWOOD/UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS
Cotton Sustainability Field Day BY MARY HIGHTOWER
U OF A SYSTEM DIVISION OF AGRICULTURE
he July 30 field day at the Judd Hill Foundation will explore various facets of sustainable cotton production, including soil health, water use and greenhouse gas production. On-site registration opens at 8 a.m. with field tours beginning at 9 a.m. The in-person event will follow CDC guidelines. “There are so many organizations working together toward the goal of increasing sustainability in producing cotton, a crop valued at $361million in Arkansas in 2018,” says Bill Robertson, Extension cotton agronomist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. “In this joint effort, we will see ongoing research and demonstration projects on the Judd Hill Foundation Research farm and the Judd Hill Foundation Commercial Farm in partnership with the outstanding cotton producers at Judd Hill, Jesse Flye and Marty White.” Organizers of the event include the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, Arkansas State University, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, Soil Health Institute, Cotton Incorporated and the National Cotton Council. The Judd Hill Foundation Farm is located on Arkansas Highway 214, 5 miles south of Trumann in Poinsett County. On The Agenda
Soil and water conservation research with comparative studies monitoring greenhouse gas production, edge-of-field water quality and soil health metrics, practices to improve irrigation water management and integrated pest management will be discussed. Tina Teague, professor-entomology, Arkansas State and University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Michele Reba, research hydrologist, USDA-ARS. Delta TWITTER: @COTTONFARMING
Water Management Research Unit. Arlene Adviento-Borbe, research agronomist, USDA-ARS, Delta Water Management Research Unit. Soil Fertility research evaluating fertility needs of cotton following peanuts will be presented by: Chuck Wilson, soils specialist — field crops, for the Division of Agriculture. In the field-scale demonstrations, participants will see conventional systems, cover crops and conservation tillage, and systems focused on improving producer profitability. Marty White, producer, Judd Hill. Jesse Flye, producer, Judd Hill. Adam Chappell, producer, Cotton Plant, Arkansas. Matt Fryer, Extension soil instructor, Division of Agriculture. Sustainability Programs
“We will also have industry leaders discuss why it is important for producers to enroll in the sustainability programs that brands and retailers are demanding,” Robertson says. These talks include: Healthy soils for sustainable cotton program update with David Lamm, project manager, Soil Health Institute. Update on U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol with Gary Adams, CEO, National Cotton Council of America. Better Cotton Initiative 2030 Impact Targets with Amna Bajwa, senior program officer, Better Cotton Initiative. Sourcing Trends: Brands Want to Know More with Hank Reichle, president and CEO, Staplcotn, the Staple Cotton Cooperative Association. The event is sponsored by the Better Cotton Initiative, Cotton Incorporated, Judd Hill Foundation and the Soil Health Institute. Organizers will serve a barbecue lunch. JULY 2021 | COTTON FARMING
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Strides have been made, but plastic contamination remains a threat to U.S. cotton’s marketplace competitiveness. Just when we think we have workable methods of handling and removing the yellow and pink premium module wrap, less-expensive and lower-quality versions of the wrap have become available. For the past several years, we believed the production of a less costly but inferior wrap could eventually heighten the probability of plastic contamination in seed cotton, especially considering most of the plastic contaminants being found is from module wrap material. Some ginners had a taste of this last year with some of the cheaper wraps. To compound the problem, several patents on the Tama wrap are set to expire, so there may be a greater rush to produce a less costly wrap. To help address this concern, the U.S cotton industry is supporting the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) as it develops a minimum round module wrap standard. The standard will help ensure that inferior materials are not being used and specify both material strength and performance levels based on the measurements of premium wraps. The goal for this standard development is to determine the wrap system’s performance from the base material performance and from the combined effects of both multilayers and attributes, such as adhesives that withstand hot and cold environments, applied tension, the length of module storage in varying environments and other factors. While this standard is voluntary, both the National Cotton Ginners Association and the National Cotton Council support its development/use and will strongly suggest that U.S. round modules meet the minimum acceptable ASABE standard. Final testing is being conducted with the goal of a ASABE vote on the revised standard later in 2021. Eventually, gins could request that producers use module wraps that meet this minimum performance standard.
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Effort To Reduce Per-Bale Wrap Cost On a related note, John Deere, which has been working on ways to lower the producer’s cost on a per-bale basis, recently announced the new 770 Series harvesters that will be available in limited numbers this year, in both stripper and picker models. To accomplish the per-bale wrap cost reduction, the machine will be able to produce a 96-inch diameter module, which will be 10% heavier. In Deere’s recent memo to the NCGA, it states that a machine operator requesting the machine to make a module larger than 94 inches will receive an in-cab notice instructing them to contact their cotton gin to verify transport and that gin equipment can handle the larger diameter module. No matter the diameter, the density will be 10% greater so all modules produced by the machines will be heavier. Unfortunately, we know that contamination increases when wraps are torn during transportation. The larger and heavier
COTTON FARMING | JULY 2021
Module Wrap Performance Can Affect Plastic Contamination
modules could become a concern when transported/handled by some of today’s conventional module trucks and module feeder beds. Virtual Ginner School Seminars After COVID-19 emerged last year, the NCGA and other gin associations primarily shifted to conducting virtual meetings to disseminate information to member gins. Although the NCGA ginner schools had been held without fail for the past 34 years, they were canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic. The association’s board agreed the three schools should resume in 2021 but with virtual training. Thus, virtual seminars were made available for gin employees who normally would attend ginner schools and for certified ginners who needed continuing education credits. The gin school instructors determined the most important information to be conveyed in abbreviated fashion during the three fourhour seminars at each of the schools. I believe the virtual seminars held this past April were a success as 119 gins and 265 participants enrolled. The three training sessions were recorded and made available on NCGA’s website at www.cotton.org/ncga/ginschool/index.cfm so all U.S. ginners can access this valuable information. Meanwhile, the NCGA looks forward to resuming in-person ginner schools in 2022. Harrison Ashley, executive vice president of the National Cotton Ginners Association, contributed this article. Contact him at (901) 274-9030 or email@example.com.
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JULY 2021 | COTTON FARMING
My Turn Worst Sound On A Cotton Farm Had Its Benefits
rowing up on a hands, both men and women — but mainly women — small West Tenn- to chop cotton for the day. The workers usually stayed essee cotton farm, together in the field and seemed to chop with such I remember many ease and accuracy with a rhythm of its own as they good and bad experienc- strolled down the row. With one easy quick lick of the es. I was born and raised in hoe, they cut out the perfect spacing to thin the plants one of those big white frame in the solid stand of cotton and chopped the grass or two-story houses with my weeds that grew around the saved plants. Occasionally, they would stop and lean on their hoe brother and me sleeping handles to finish a sentence in a conversation or a joke upstairs. In the summertime, it was punch line. In watching them, it really didn’t seem like Lee usually so hot that we slept they were doing much hard work at all. Todd or tried to sleep with just the Whereas, with me, no field work was easy. It was a bare minimum of clothes on constant struggle to keep up with the other workers. and all the windows open. Since our bed was next However, that was most vital for me to do to reap the to a window, along about daybreak it would cool off benefits of hearing the news and gossip, being enterenough to finally get some comfortable sleep. tained by their jokes and stories, and finding out what However, about the time when things were getting each had planned for the coming weekend. halfway pleasant, I can still remember being rudely I also learned what each one had “accomplished” awakened in the cool morning breeze by the horri- either on Saturday night or at church on Sunday of the ble sound of my father standing below the window previous weekend. Hearing about Saturday nights was next to our bed sharpmuch better and more “In the field with the other hands ening my hoe to be used educational than hearthat day to chop cotton. what happened at chopping cotton was the main place ing What a greeting for the Sunday church. new day! It had to be the So growing up workI heard the local gossip and news.” worst sound, ever. ing in the cotton fields Since my brother was older, he got to drive the had its unpleasant moments but also some good times. Oliver 70 tractor, and before that, during the war Being awakened in the morning by my father sharpenyears, he drove the steel wheel John Deere B. But me ing my hoe to chop cotton that day was not one of the being the younger, I ended up having to plow with the good experiences. However, hearing about Saturday mule or join the other “hands” chopping cotton. Boy, nights from the field hands almost made it worthwas I glad when my brother finally went to college, while. and I was promoted to tractor driving. Some people seem to long for the “good old times” After I was up and going for the day, chopping cot- in whatever they are currently doing. However, my ton was not the worst job in the world for me. Picking father always said, “The people who say that must not cotton held that distinction, and I cannot think of any have grown up in the place and time I did, because the situation or condition that would alter my feelings present times are my good old times.” about it. Despite the hot sun and the hot ground on So be it for those cotton experiences from back my bare feet, chopping cotton was bearable. At least I when. Both good and bad times are fun to remember thought so at the time. and talk about. But with modern equipment, chemiIn the field with the other hands chopping cotton cals and technology in present-day cotton production, was the main place I heard the local gossip and news. I those “good old days of the past” are best to remain was entertained with all kinds of jokes and stories that just that — in the past. I otherwise never would have heard under most any circumstance and where I received a lot of my “extra— Lee Todd curricular” education. Germantown, Tennessee Each day, my father would go into town and get firstname.lastname@example.org Cotton Farming’s back page is devoted to telling unusual “farm tales” or timely stories from across the Cotton Belt. Now it’s your turn. If you’ve got an interesting story to tell, send a short summary to email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you.
COTTON FARMING | JULY 2021
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