Even though he graduated from Angelo State University with a computer science degree, in the end, a passion for agriculture won over West Texas cotton producer Randy Gully.
When a small piece of land became available the year that he graduated, Gully, who grew up farming with both sets of grandparents, decided not to pursue a career in computers, gathered together some equipment and followed his heart instead. Gradually, he added more land and now runs an 1,800-acre operation near San Angelo where cotton is his No. 1 crop. Gully’s wife Tammy, who is a seventh grade Texas history teacher, also helps him with chores around the farm during the summer.
Over the years, Gully has cooperated with seed companies, allowing them to conduct variety trials on his farm. In the past, he has worked with Deltapine, and, for the last five years, he has cooperated with PhytoGen.
“I realize a benefit from these trials by getting to see firsthand on my own farm how new varieties perform right out of the gate,” Gully says. “Every year we have a replicated trial with different PhytoGen varieties and some of its competitor’s varieties.
“Personally, I like to grow a mix of varieties because I’ve learned that no year is ever the same, and one variety may perform a little differently than the other, depending on the climate and other conditions,” he adds.
In 2011, Gully says he will plant two potentially high-yielding varieties on the majority of his cotton acreage – PHY 565 WRF and DP 1044 B2RF.
The West Texas farmer also has incorporated water conservation practices into his production strategy. For example, instead of flood irrigating out of an open ditch, he and other farmers in the area have put in pits in which the water flows through and is then pumped into a pivot.
“Now my rows are back on the water level, so I can use a pivot and be more efficient with water and rainfall, when we get it,” Gully says. “I also utilize drip irrigation on some of my fields.”
In the soil conservation arena, he is moving more of his acres into a minimum tillage program.
Young And Future Farmers
In a unique twist on the status quo, Tom Green County has the most young farmers of any area in Texas. Gully says they all communicate with one another on a regular basis.
“The Farm Bureau has a Young Farmer and Rancher Program that provides an opportunity to get young farmers involved,” he explains. “Any time new producers come on board, we are willing to share what knowledge we have with them.”
If farming is Gully’s passion, what excites him about growing cotton in 2011?
“Right now, cotton prices are awfully strong, and I like the idea of planting a seed, adding a dose of TLC, nurturing it along and seeing how it turns out at the end of the year,” he says. “It’s very rewarding, and I hope to someday pass this farm on to our two young sons.”
Contact Carroll Smith at (901) 767-4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tom Green County Farm
Bureau Hosts On-Farm Ag Day
Tom Green County Farm Bureau recently hosted an “Ag in the Classroom” two-day, four-session event at Randy Gully’s West Texas farm for 800 fourth-graders from nearby urban schools. Gully, a former president of the Tom Green County Farm Bureau, says he is interested in anything that improves public awareness of agriculture.
During this year’s event, the students visited seven stations that included cotton, feed grains, sheep, goats, cattle, swine and dairy. The purpose of each station was to instill in the students how the featured crop or livestock affects each of their lives – what they wear and what they eat.
Greg Schwertner is the Farm Bureau director who made the 15-minute presentation at the cotton station. In terms the students could understand, he talked about how cotton is grown, how cotton is ginned and the importance of cotton in daily life.
“We also try to address some of the issues that are out there and explain what they really mean,” Schwertner says.
“During my cotton program, I mentioned that the price of cotton has doubled since last year. I said they may have heard on the news that blue jeans were going to go up $10 to $15 a pair because of the price of cotton.
“I pointed out to them that there was about $1.20 worth of cotton in a pair of jeans last year, and now there is about $2.40 worth of cotton in a pair of jeans,” he says. “Consequently, if a pair of jeans goes up more than $1.20 today, then it’s not due to the price of cotton, it’s due to other circumstances.”
Schwertner also notes that the Tom Green County Farm Bureau’s Ag in the Classroom is an educational program designed primarily for students who do not have much knowledge of agriculture.