here to ask Winston Earnheart a question or submit
a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.
in a pest population is generated from being exposed to the same
chemical class, or toxin, over many generations. The main way
to combat this is either to change chemistries or rotate crops.
concerns for cotton farmers in the Mid-South area include: marestail
and pigweed resistance to glyphosate, bollworm resistance to Bt
cotton and plant bug resistance to organophosphate insecticides.
can develop resistance faster than plants because insects have many
generations in a year. Fungi and nematodes can also develop genetic
tolerance to a control chemical or toxin.
Thirty-five years cotton consulting experience
• B.S. degree in Agronomy – Mississippi State University
• M.S. and Ph.D. in Biology – University of Mississippi
• Member of Mississippi Agricultural Consultants Association
• Enjoys music, hunting and fishing and getting together with
wife and six children
In this Q&A interview, Earnheart talks about the challenges
he faces and the rewards he realizes as a consultant
in today’s new ag environment.
WhWhat services do
you offer and how do they contribute to your farmer client’s profitability?
I consult in cotton and rice, monitoring pest populations
to see if levels are high enough to control to give the client
an economic benefit. Pests include insects, weeds and disease organisms.
Other decisions in which I am involved
include fertilization, variety selection, PGRs, irrigation and
defoliation. Although the type of product recommended is
important, timing of the application has a lot to do with
how the product will work. Our service stresses how important this is
to the client. I report crop progress and suggest termination of control
measures when the crop is mature.
approach to processing technology/ product information that you eventually
pass on to the farmer?
Keeping up with the latest
technology requires attending many meetings during the “off-season.”
Most of my information comes from the Extension services of Mississippi
and surrounding states. Their recommendations are well researched and
widely accepted among my clients. I also rely upon industry to provide
the latest information on
their agricultural chemicals and varieties. The Beltwide is
important, and the magazine and newspaper publications
provide valuable information to both me and the farmer. I
try to evaluate this mass of data so that I can make an
objective, economic recommendation to the client.
In your career, what’s
been the biggest change for crop consultants?
We have had to become more
than just a “bug man.” Farm sizes have become much larger,
and farmers spend a larger percentage of their time managing the business
aspects of their operations. They have less time to keep up with the
technology and to monitor pests in their own crops. We have also had
to adapt to new biotechnology, computer applications and the use of
What has been the
most rewarding part of your profession?
The relationships I have
established over the years with my clients are valued greatly by me.
I hope I have served them in a way that has improved their quality of
life and benefited their economic success. I enjoyed farming with my
father for 25 years, and having the privilege of still being involved
in the agricultural process is very satisfying.