Cotton Links

- Editor's Note -

Today’s Farmers Refuse To Quit

By Tommy Horton

Sometimes we need a reminder to fully appreciate the resilience of today’s cotton farmer. It’s not that we haven’t always understood what farmers go through every year as they battle fluctuating prices, bad weather, skyrocketing input costs and other challenges. But after watching several hurricanes and storms batter parts of the Southeast, Mid-South and Texas last month, it’s remarkable that any farmer in these regions could muster an optimistic attitude about his crop.

That is exactly what we ran across after talking to Mississippi producer Justin Cariker and Texas High Plains producer Steve Newsom. We chatted with Cariker about his approach to harvest this season. Specifically, we wanted to know if his late planted cotton would survive after a season that saw the Delta bombarded with scorching temperatures in July and heavy rains in the spring. And, more recently, would the residual rainfall effects from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike dampen his enthusiasm? You can read some of his comments in our cover story on pages 8, 9 and 10.

Justin is the kind of farmer who could lose every acre on his farm to a major calamity and find something hopeful to say. He exudes the enthusiasm of a young teenager who has earned enough money to buy his first car. No, the storms, hot temperatures and late planting haven’t changed his temperament. As he puts it, “this year won’t be a barnburner, but it’s still going to be good.”

He’s sympathetic to his friends in Louisiana and Texas who were affected by the hurricanes, but somehow he’s dodged all of the major bullets this fall. As you’ll read in our main story, he won’t be harvesting at night, even though his neighbors do that a lot. He’s simply finding a cost-efficient way to nurse his crop along and deliver it to the gin on time.

As for our Texas friend Steve, he ought to write a book about positive thinking. He’s seen every kind of weather pattern in the High Plains – whether it is hailstorms, sandstorms, heavy rains or record-breaking drought. This year, he lost 1,000 of his acres to high winds and hail. However, as he spoke to ag media attending a recent Bayer CropScience event in Lubbock, he refused to say the season was a total loss.

In fact, he thinks his remaining 2,000 acres have a chance to deliver big yields and excellent quality. The average farmer in the High Plains might not say that – but, then again, Newsom is probably a distant cousin to Dale Carnegie. He has never given up on a cotton crop.

Justin Cariker and Steve Newsom. Remember those names. If these folks ever give up farming, they might have a future in politics. To them, the glass is never empty. It’s always half full.

If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 5118 Park Ave., Suite 111, Memphis, Tenn., 38117. Or send e-mail to: thorton@onegrower.com.

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