More than 100 cotton farmers from New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas, Kansas and even Mexico gathered at the inaugural Cotton U event, sponsored by High Plains Journal and the Amarillo Farm and Ranch Show on Dec. 5, in Amarillo, Texas.
Cotton U was a half-day event complete with farmer panels, cotton experts and opportunities to earn continuing education unit credits.
The event began with a cotton farmer panel, which included Tanner Olson of Plainview, Texas; Austin White of Frederick, Oklahoma; and Wes Spurlock of Stratford, Texas. After answering questions from HPJ Associate Editor Jennifer M. Latzke, the panel fielded questions from attendees in the crowd. The queries related to how they manage their cotton crops relative to their location and producer goals.
Next Seth Byrd, Oklahoma State University cotton Extension specialist, gave a presentation about managing cotton in short-season environments. He explained how producers should manage for earliness in a climate like the Southern Plains. He says to meet crop demands for fertility, be timely, be careful of variety selection, control pests and use harvest aids.
Jeff Miller, with ForeFront Agronomy, spoke about irrigation for profitability and soil health. He focused his presentation on four main principles for soil health including: minimizing disturbances, maximizing soil cover, maximizing diversity and maximizing the presence of living roots.
After lunch Craig Brown, vice president of producer affairs at the National Cotton Council of America, gave the keynote speech. The NCC has initiated a pilot program called the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, which is designed to confirm and increase awareness of the fact that U.S. cotton producers are farming responsibly and striving for continuous improvement. Brown explained the program and how it will affect cotton growers and their products.
Throughout the event, sustainability within the cotton industry was a major theme throughout each presentation, and many of the questions asked of the panel and presenters dealt with this buzzword. Everyone defines sustainability differently, but one of the members of the farmer panel summed it up best when he said, “If you don’t make money, you’re not going to be here next year.”
Although this was the first Cotton U event held, HPJ has a slate of other educational events including: Soil Health U, Cattle U, Sorghum U, Wheat U and Alfalfa U. To learn more about these events, visit www.hpj.com.
Lacey Newlin can be reached at 580-748-1892 or firstname.lastname@example.org.