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Cotton Consultant's Corner

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Click here to ask Clay Despain
a question or submit a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.

Successful Production Tips:


1. A good growing season starts with a good burndown program. Let’s start clean.

2. Make sure your nutrient levels are good and make sure your fertilizer
application is in accordance with your soil sampling analysis.

3. Work closely with your consultant to ensure a successful, continuing pest management program.


Clay Despain
Despain Crop Services
Poinsett County, Ark. 

• BS in Agriculture, Plant Science – Arkansas State University
• Began career in agriculture as a field scout in high school
  and college
• Started my own consulting business in 2002
• State licensed consultant
• Member of the Arkansas Crop Protection Association
• Member of the Arkansas Agricultural Consultants Association
• Alumnus of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity
• My wife, Leah, and I reside in Marion, Ark. I am an avid
  hunter and enjoy spending time with my family and friends

In this Q&A interview, Despain talks about a crop consultant’s challenges and rewards in today’s ag environment

What influenced your decision to pursue a career
as a cotton crop consultant and what services do
you offer your farmer clients?

I enjoy the independence and flexibility that this career
affords. In addition, I value the relationships I have built
with my farmers and other industry professionals. My consulting services include: soil sampling, plant mapping, variety selection, fertilizer advice, recommendations on herbicides, insecticides, PGRs and defoliants. I also provide scouting services for corn, soybeans and grain sorghum. My precision ag services include grid sampling and variable rate applications.

Outside of your usual responsibilities, such as
variety selection, soil sampling, scouting, etc.,
how can cotton consultants make a difference in
making their farmer clients’ operations a success?

In a word, it all boils down to dollars and cents. I think consultants can make the most impact on their clients’ success by keeping close watch on the pulse of their operations. While yield is very important, you have to think about the costs associated with attaining those yields in terms of insecticide and herbicide applications, for example. Your margins, or operating ratio, is what ultimately puts money in the bank. Also, with the high costs of inputs, timing is everything. You have to target your inputs for optimum performance without being excessive.

How would you describe the future role of the cotton consultant as the industry continues to evolve?

The role of the consultant is evolving into professional counsel in terms of continuing education. That is definitely one thing I place my focus on. Outside of my direct responsibilities to my growers, I attend winter education meetings to learn about new products and technologies that can provide economical solutions while increasing their yield. Also, I conduct and participate in field trials throughout the year. It is important to work with university personnel to learn about other “best practices” in different areas of the state. Also, with the skyrocketing prices of other crops, I have had to learn to diversify my knowledge of corn, beans and grain sorghum. I think we will continue to see this role expanding into keeping up with industry trends and how they can be applied to my growers’ operations.

What has been the most rewarding part of your profession?

The most rewarding part of my career coincides with the end of the growing season. I look forward to seeing the fruits of our labor. It’s validation for good decisions, and it is an opportunity to tweakother decisions as my farmers and I begin to plan for another successful crop year.



Cotton Consultant of the Year Award
Cotton Consultant of the Year History
Cotton Consultant of the Year Recipients


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