Cotton Links


Steady Focus

Texas Producer Steven Beakley Looks
For New ĎAdvantagesí In 2009

By Tommy Horton

Ellis County, Texas, just south of Dallas, once had more cotton production than any other part of the state. Today, it might not have the most acres, but it has some innovative young farmers who still love to grow cotton.

One of those success stories belongs to producer Steven Beakley, a fourth-generation farmer whose farm is just 30 minutes south of downtown Dallas.

Make no mistake about it. The approaching urban sprawl of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area worries farmers who still plant cotton in adjacent counties.

These city populations compete for land and water – two important necessities for a farmer. However, even though he has a huge city at his backdoor, Beakley continues to press on in his quest to be an innovative farmer.

Because it costs too much to put in wells and irrigate, he has a dryland operation on his 2,500 cotton acres that he farms with his father Bob. Wheat, soybeans and corn round out the 8,000-acre family operation.

“I think producers in this state have a pride for growing cotton,” the young farmer says. “A lot of them will tell you they’re growing corn and that they’ve cut back on their cotton.

“I don’t mind telling you that cotton is my favorite crop, and I think it will definitely make a comeback.”

Ready For 15th Crop

If anybody knows how to produce quality cotton, it would be Beakley. This will be his 15th crop to produce, and he has tried to maximize yields and quality by using various precision ag techniques.

Beakley was pleased at how his cotton performed in ’08, despite being in the path of some hurricanes last fall that traveled north from the Gulf of Mexico.

The crop averaged 575 pounds per acre, with a yield range that went from 350 pounds to 825 pounds. Most of the acreage was planted in DP164 B2RF.

“Ten years ago, we would have been lucky to average 340 pounds per acre,” says Beakley. “So, you can definitely see how cotton varieties are becoming consistently better.”

Beakley, who had Deltapine Class of ’09 varieties tested on his acreage in 2008, is particularly excited about two new varieties for this year – DP 0935 B2RF and DP 0924 B2RF.

In particular, he likes how the 0935 variety performed under less-than-perfect conditions. It did well in severe heat stress and stayed clean through defoliation and harvest, according to Beakley.

Three Rules For Seed Varieties

What is Beakley looking for in a seed variety? Mainly, he wants early season vigor in a dryland situation and good heat and drought tolerance.

“Those are the three big areas that are important to me,” he says. “Hopefully, the quality will also be there. Anything we can do to improve on that will help the bottom line.”

One of Beakley’s friends is his Extension IPM advisor, Glenn Moore, who has worked with Steven and his father for many years.

“I would describe Steven as a highly aggressive producer,” says Moore. “By that, I mean he adopts technology and precision ag to stay on the cutting edge. He’s always looking to improve his operation any way he can.”

Contact Tommy Horton at (901) 767-4020 or thorton@onegrower.com.

Steven Beakley’s Farm Operation

• 2,500 acres of cotton.
• Dryland operation.
• Rotates cotton with corn.
• Also grows soybeans and wheat.
• 8,000 acres for all crops.
• Uses precision ag systems

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