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West Tenn. Farm Stays Loyal To Cotton

It’s refreshing when you can find a farmer here in the Mid-South who remains loyal to cotton, despite the temptation to follow the market and chase those high grain prices. Such a farming operation exists in West Tennessee, and you’ll learn more about the Luckey family when you read the cover story in the August issue of Cotton Farming.

I had heard about this family for many years but never had the opportunity to visit Jason, his father Rege, brother Ken and nephew Zac. Finally, I made contact with Jason in mid-July, and made the trek to the tiny community of Medina north of Jackson. When I turned off Highway 45, I thought I had ventured into a typical city suburb with new houses dotting the landscape. But, then, I ventured on for a few more miles and made a left turn into a remote area, and there was the Luckey farm office inside an old building. A couple of dogs greeted this Memphis visitor and escorted me into the office where Rege was ready to chat. A few minutes later, nephew Zac and Jason came walking in and joined the conversation.

Before going out to view the cotton fields, Jason talked about why it makes economical sense to keep cotton in a regular rotation program with corn and soybeans. Each crop helps the other and replenishes the soil every three years. And even though it might be tempting to sell all the cotton equipment, there is simply too much invested to walk away from this crop completely.

To hear Jason describe his farm’s business plan, it made perfect sense. Naturally, one blueprint can’t fit every farm. But when the history of a farm shows how a regular rotation between crops produces stability – in good and bad times – it was easy to see why the Luckeys don’t have any plans to abandon cotton. The family also made a recent purchase of a new John Deere on-board module picker. That proves the commitment to cotton for the long-term.

Cotton production in West Tennessee isn’t easy – mainly because of rolling terrain, which necessitates dryland farming and no irrigation. However, even in the hills of this part of the state, farmers are beginning to implement various kinds of irrigation systems.

What’s the takeaway message here? Staying with cotton can be an emotional decision. But, in the case of the Luckey family, it’s the right business decision.

And no family member has any regrets.