Sometimes the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas is the forgotten region in the Cotton Belt’s largest production state. And, yet, it might be the brightest spot in the Lone Star state after a devastating drought this year.
The region has a lot of irrigated cotton acreage and some of the most innovative producers in the country. A farmer in this part of Texas needs to be analytical in his production strategy and ready to deal with numerous challenges – mainly drought and the threat of tropical storms and hurricanes.
Maybe that’s why many observers are pointing to this region as one of the success stories in Texas cotton production in 2011. So far, the area has avoided a direct hit from a tropical storm, and the crop was harvested in early August.
That probably explains why producer Leonard Simmons of San Benito, Texas, feels so good right now. His farm, which consists of 2,600 acres of cotton, did extremely well. His main varieties – DP 1044 B2RF and DP 1032 B2RF – each averaged more than 1,000 pounds per acre.
Simmons also plants some FiberMax and tries to have a diverse mix of varieties each year. His other crops are sugar cane, corn and milo.
“We were very fortunate this year,” says Simmons, who is a fourth generation farmer. “We had a cool and dry spring, but we had plenty of irrigation water and kept up with the crop.”
Good Conditions For Crop Production
The Rio Grande Valley also had a moderate year for fleahopper pressure and doesn’t really have a weed resistance problem. However, Simmons believes the presence of grain sorghum acreage “helps to break up the cycle for us.”
Lack of host plants contributed to the low population of fleahoppers, and an aggressive residual herbicide program helped in preventing weed resistance.
Simmons says that cotton production in south Texas is a different undertaking. Farmers have to plant varieties that mature early and can be harvested in early August.
Consultant Jim Trolinger of Harlingen has worked with Simmons for several decades, and he says it was more than just luck that helped produce those good yields.
“I’ve known Leonard for a long time,” says Trolinger. “We grew up together, and he’s a farmer who studies every problem and comes up with an answer. I feel badly for the rest of Texas, but I’m happy at how Leonard’s cotton did this year. Everything came together. I’d say the future has never looked better.”
Contact Tommy Horton at email@example.com or (901) 767-4020.ss