Optimism Drives West Texas Cotton

Bryson Vadder
Agri-Tech Consulting, Inc.
Lubbock, Texas

My father, Ed Vadder, was a big influence in my deciding to go into the consulting business. He and two of his partners came out here to West Texas after graduating from Oklahoma State and began consulting in the 1950s. They were some of the first consultants in this area. Throughout high school, I worked alongside my dad. He also had a fertilizer business, so we did fertility work in the winter and spring and consulted during the summer. I then went to Texas Tech and got a degree in agronomy and entomology. After I graduated, I worked in the ag chem business for about five years, but I yearned to get back to the farm. I like the outdoors.

My father encouraged me to open my own consulting business, which I did in 1995. He consulted in the Plainview area, and I consult in the Southern High Plains’ counties. I really enjoy the camaraderie of the people I work with. There’s no doubt that consulting has been a great field for me.

This past year was pretty tough because we’ve been in a drought for three years. We had some winter moisture, but, for the most part, started out with a deficit. Early in the year, a lot of my acres were blown out due to the winds that we experienced. One thing that concerned me in 2013 was that we had some farms where we couldn’t kill the weeds. It was fairly widespread. We didn’t know whether it was due to the field conditions or if it was herbicide resistance. For next year, we are going to have to do some due diligence on our herbicide programs to prepare for this.

Overall, we had a light insect year, but we do have a nematode problem in our sandier soils. We are looking at different options, and nematodetolerant cotton varieties are becoming more important to us so we can suppress these populations and get ahead of them to make a crop. Hopefully, in the future, the seed companies can develop varieties that are even more tolerant to this pest.

On a positive note, our yields are coming back really well. Where farmers had decent irrigation and in those spots where it did rain, the yields looked good. Three bales is the norm. The varieties that we have today have changed our entire business over the past 10 to 15 years. The research and development that the seed companies are conducting appears to be moving in the right direction. It takes a lot more cotton to be profitable, and they are making that happen. It really helps the bottom line in the long run.

Cotton is one of my main crops, and, right now, the prices are holding and the grains are backing off. It did rain some this year, which was encouraging. With our water situation, we thought we could get by with just irrigation, but we can’t. We need rain. Hopefully, this three-year drought that we’ve been going through will improve. But, we’ve got a lot of hope. That’s the beauty of working with farmers. They are always the eternal optimists.

I admire their attitude, especially when you consider the investment they make in inputs and the gamble they take starting out. Their optimism is encouraging for the future of West Texas cotton production.

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

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Consultant

• B.S. in Agronomy and Entomology – Texas Tech

• Began his own consulting business – Agri-Tech Consulting, Inc., in 1995

• Consults on cotton, corn, peanuts, grain sorghum, sunflowers and black-eyed peas

• Current president of the High Plains Association of Crop Consultants, which, for the most part, is comprised of consultants in the Texas Panhandle

• Married to wife, Valerie. Two children: Benjamin, who is a business major at Texas Tech and Annelise, who is a junior at Frenship High School

• Enjoys fishing, gardening, the outdoors and is a history buff, who likes to read about Western history – particularly from the pre-Civil War era – and then travel to these historical sites

Recap: Optimism Drives West Texas Cotton

1. This past year was pretty tough because we’ve been in a drought for three years. We had some winter moisture, but, for the most part, started out with a deficit. However, it did rain some this year, which was encouraging.

2. One thing that concerned me in 2013 was that we had some farms where we couldn’t kill the weeds, either due to field conditions or herbicide resistance. For next year, we are going to have to do some due diligence on our herbicide programs to prepare for this.

3. We do have a nematode problem in our sandier soils and are looking at different options. Nematode-tolerant cotton varieties are becoming more important to us so we can suppress these populations and get ahead of them to make a crop.

4. On a positive note, our yields are coming back really well. The research and development that the seed companies are conducting appears to be moving in the right direction. It takes a lot more cotton to be profitable, and they are making that happen.

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