When in doubt about how and when to sell your cotton, it always pays to listen to the experts. Even if these folks don’t proclaim to have doctorate degrees in agricultural economics, what they have to say matters. They aren’t necessarily sitting around a conference table in a New York City skyscraper discussing hedge funds and venture capital projects. They also aren’t parked in front of a computer all day while talking to someone in Tokyo, Beijing or London.
Our experts are a different type compared to the button-down executives who wear the Brooks Brothers suits. You might call these persons a unique brand of soldier who is on the front line of agriculture. They have something on their side that nobody else really has in a resume or portfolio. These “experts” have weathered the unpredictable twists and turns that market prices dish out every day. But, more importantly, they are survivors who have achieved several decades’ worth of experience planting, nurturing and harvesting cotton crops.
That explains why we called on cotton producers such as Georgia’s Bob McLendon, Mississippi’s Kenneth Hood, Texas’ Bill Lovelady and Arizona’s Dennis Palmer to offer some clarity as the industry tries to make sense of this historic cotton price ride.
I have known Palmer for about a year since we featured him in a cover story in Cotton Farming in April of 2010. If ever there breathed a common sense farmer, it’s Dennis, and I respect his opinion along with everyone else in the Palmer family farm operation in Thatcher, Ariz.
As for McLendon, Hood and Lovelady, I’ve know each of them for about 25 years, dating back to the mid-1980s. Before there were iPhones, Blackberries, iPods, email messages and computers, these three farmers were out there searching for new techniques to make their farms more efficient. They have always had a knack for analyzing a situation and finding a solution – no matter how complicated. It’s this kind of meticulous approach that has allowed them to adapt and succeed through the years.
We thought it would be informative to hear what they had to say about high cotton prices. Each farmer represents a different region of the Belt, and the agronomic challenges aren’t the same. But they have one common trait. They trust their own judgment and are always willing to share their ideas with anybody who will listen.
When you read their stories on pages 14, 16, 20 and 22, you’ll better understand what I’m talking about. An experienced farmer has seen the highs and lows in cotton prices but sticks to the fundamentals and is careful in his decisions.
Such is the case with these four farmers.
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