To say that David Taylor does his homework as a north Mississippi cotton producer doesn’t really tell all of the story. Sure, he learned a lot from his father Sledge on how to produce top quality cotton, and there is a family history of cotton production that spans several generations.
However, young David has embraced farming in his own way, and it has resulted in some impressive achievements in the last few years.
The Taylor farm has cotton acreage in the hill country and Delta region of north Mississippi. The two areas require completely different management practices, but David has learned how to adjust his approach in both places.
In 2010, the farm had 5,500 acres – 3,000 acres of cotton and 2,500 acres of grain. Ninety percent of the cotton is dryland, while most of the grain is irrigated.
Because of these two different production environments, Taylor is particular in how he studies a variety’s performance before planting it. For example, he knows that Stoneville’s ST 5458B2RF is a good fit on his dryland acreage near Como, Miss.
“It’s been a success in a wide range of environments and was the most consistent variety,” he says. “It takes a special variety for a dryland field. It’s very stormproof, and sometimes will pick better than it looks.
Water Access Is Important
Mississippi Consultant Knows Secret To Taylor’s Success
Aside from the fact that fields in the hill country are sometimes uneven in their contours, there is the question of water access. A deep well in the hills might produce 500 gallons a minute while the same well in the Delta can deliver 3,000 gallons in the same time period.
That is one of the reasons for choosing a variety that can handle occasional stress in a dryland field.
For that reason, he also has plans for Stoneville’s ST 5288B2F.
“This variety will also have a place in our thin, dryland soil that might be stress-prone,” he says. “This one handles the heat and dry weather better than anything out there.”
Taylor also was an early proponent of rotating corn with his cotton. The practice has proven to help in controlling resistant pigweed and increase cotton yields by as much as 150 to 200 pounds.
Several Data Sources
In addition to implementing management practices that have proven effective, Taylor has his own approach for choosing varieties to plant each year. He doesn’t rely on one source of data and information. Obviously, the Official Variety Trial data in Mississippi is critically important. That information, however, is just the tip of the iceberg.
Taylor also looks at the results from Bayer’s Cotton Agronomic Performance (CAP) trials plus replicated trials managed by Mississippi Extension cotton specialist Darrin Dodds. And, as if that weren’t enough data, he devotes acreage each year to his own on-farm trials.
“Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by so much information, but I do whatever I have to do to make it happen,” he says. “I can take time during the winter to sift through the data, and somehow it all comes together.”
After harvest is completed during the last week of October, Taylor and the rest of his family look at their business and develop a plan for the new season. Then, after they decide how much acreage will be devoted to each crop, the process starts as they begin to study seed varieties.
Attractive Cotton Prices
One of the key contributing factors in Taylor’s strategy is the current price for cotton. He sold his last cotton from 2010 at $1.33 per pound, but hasn’t booked anything yet for 2011.
As for his outlook for the new year, he hopes the momentum continues.
“I love growing this crop,” he says. “Corn and soybeans are good crops, but there is nothing better than a big field of snow-white cotton. It’s just something very special.”
Contact Tommy Horton at (901) 767-4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.