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Texas Ready To Become ‘Cotton Central’ In ‘09

By Barry Evans
Plains Cotton Growers, Inc

In Texas, and especially on the High Plains of Texas, we typically start with cotton as the focal point of our farming plans and then see how other crops can play a supporting role.

The reasons for our “cotton centric” focus is that our region’s climate and soil are best suited to the production of cotton. Year-in and year-out cotton is the crop that pays the bills.

Regardless of location, cotton farmers know that producing a good crop is usually a combination of good planning, good timing and, more often than not, a little luck.

That’s certainly the case as we head into 2009 no matter where you’re located. It is safe to say that the vast majority of the pressure we are going to feel this year will be generated by factors beyond our control.

Extra Attention Appreciated

The fact that Texas cotton farmers will be planting more than one-half of the total U.S. cotton acres is really not something I think we need to feel pressured about for a couple of reasons.

First, our objectives for cotton this year are the same as they were last year and the previous year – real profitability for farmers.

The extra attention others may pay to what we are doing is a side benefit and something I believe could ultimately be advantageous to cotton people outside of Texas.

I am proud of the high level of accomplishment we have developed within the grower ranks. We do things a little differently out here, but the management techniques we are using to control costs could be used elsewhere with positive results.

Second, our track record over the past five years clearly shows that the Texas High Plains can deliver a high quality, high value cotton to the marketplace.

If the weather cooperates this year, the decisions we make now will give us an opportunity to produce as much cotton as anyone. If things don’t go our way, it certainly won’t be for a lack of trying because we have the resources to get the job done.

New Varieties, Technology Helped

Today’s Texas cotton farmer has a set of tools at his disposal that boggles the mind. We’ve seen firsthand over the past few years what we can do when things fall into place.

New varieties, boll weevil eradication, advanced management techniques and new technology in seed and equipment give us the ability to maximize our results when Mother Nature finally cooperates.

As a farmer, I welcome the opportunity to do what I do best with extra attention from the rest of the cotton world. With the extra attention this year, we have an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the cutting edge strategies we employ to conserve our important water and soil resources for future generations.

2009: A Major Challenge

It appears that 2009 will be a challenge for everyone, whether or not you are growing cotton. The challenges facing our country and industry are real, but we can manage those risks and continue to look for new opportunities to present themselves.

For our industry, much of my concern in 2009 is directed toward areas of the Cotton Belt outside of Texas and maintaining the infrastructure they need to keep cotton a viable cropping choice.

A certain amount of consolidation is to be expected following the acreage declines of the past few years. It would be devastating, though, to lose too much of the foundation upon which our industry is built. Cotton’s infrastructure is something our nation’s economy can’t afford to lose.

Cotton Country

As a third-generation farmer on the High Plains of Texas, cotton has always been the central focus of my family’s farming operation.

This is an exciting time to be a cotton producer on the Texas High Plains. We have worked long and hard to develop new varieties and production techniques that allow us to take full advantage of the resources we have.

Having talked with many friends across the Cotton Belt, they share my love for cotton and are looking forward to the day that they can profitably return cotton to their operations.

Rest assured, that day WILL come. Until it does, the High Plains stands ready to do its best to meet the world’s demand for high quality U.S. cotton – regardless of who is watching.

Barry Evans is a producer who farms in Kress, Texas. He is the current president of Plains Cotton Growers, Inc. For more information about PCG, go to www.plainscotton.org.

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