Paul Scott Poag
In northeast Arkansas, the year 2009 was absolutely the
most challenging year I have ever encountered. I, as well
as many others, am glad to have this one in the rearview
mirror. There are several lessons I have learned this year.
The most significant is that we can make it rain with center
pivots, but when Mother Nature turns on the water,
there is no one who can turn it off.
This time of year I begin to get myself and my farmers
geared up for the upcoming season. There are several challenges
facing farmers in 2010 such as, which crop is going
to be grown in a certain field, and which variety will go to
each field. Commodity prices, crop budgets and, ultimately,
what crop the landowners want their farmers to plant
will answer these questions.
Variety selection is always a big decision. I select cotton
varieties based on three main factors: Maturity, genetic
traits and field trial results. In northeast Arkansas, most
varieties are early to mid-season. I like to spread out the
maturity of a farmer’s varieties in order to minimize risk.
Genetic traits have revolutionized the way we have
farmed cotton in Arkansas and will continue to do so. I
have my farmers utilize the traits that are currently available
and look forward to the new traits that are to come. I
look at several different field trials to evaluate a variety for
stability and whether it will have the same results on a
similar soil type that my clients farm. I personally like a
variety to place in the top 15 percent of all the field trials
to make sure that it has good top-end yield potential with
no unexpected yield drags.
The fertility program for each crop will be decided when
all soil sampling is completed and processed. I have been
promoting grid soil sampling this year to my producers by
showing them the benefits of this practice. Since fertilizer
is a major cost, it makes sense that the more efficiently the
fertilizer is used, the more profitable the farmer will be.
One of the biggest questions this year has to be weed
control. In 2009, I witnessed more weed chopping crews in
northeast Arkansas since my time as a field scout began in
the mid ’90s. This winter, I will drive home two main
points to my growers: Start clean and use a pre-emerge
herbicide for residual weed control.
Good luck to everyone in 2010!
Click here to ask Paul Scott Poag
a question or submit a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.
• B.S. in Agricultural Business with a minor in
Plant Science – Arkansas State University, 2002
• M.S. in Agricultural Economics – University of
• Started Poag Scouting in 2000 in Manila, Ark.,
working with cotton, soybeans, corn and wheat
• Certified Crop Advisor
• Arkansas State Plant Board Certified Consultant
• Married to Rachel for four months
• Enjoys spending time with family and hunting
Recap: Gearing Up For 2010