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Special Report

Young Californian Loves New Cotton Career


Timing is everything in the cotton industry. Whether it’s growing or selling the crop or launching a career, it’s all about the calendar. And that is certainly the case for a young Californian named Stephen Harmer, who recently graduated from the International Cotton Institute in Memphis, Tenn. More than a year ago, he earned a degree from the University of California-San Luis Obispo in wine and viticulture and thought he was headed for a career in that industry. It seemed like the right choice at the time. Then, his parents encouraged him to consider another offer from a cotton company in Bakersfield, Calif. It seems that the Jess Smith & Sons Cotton Company was looking for someone to hire, and Stephen’s name was passed along as a potential candidate for a job as a trader. After much discussion with his parents, he finally relented and decided to interview with the company – even though his knowledge of cotton was limited. It turned out to be a life-changing decision for Stephen. He was offered a position, fell in love with cotton and hasn’t looked back. He quickly settled into being a trader with the company, and his boss decided it would be advantageous if he participated in the International Cotton Institute in Memphis. The school would increase his contacts in the global cotton industry, while helping him learn more about all aspects of cotton. And, in a bit of irony, company owner Ernie Schroeder Jr. had participated in this same class in 1995, the International Cotton Institute’s first year. Read More »

Southern Ginners Learn To Adapt

Is it possible to find opportunity in the midst of difficult times? If you are a cotton ginner in the Mid- South, that is probably your mindset these days. It certainly was the overriding theme at the Southern Cotton Ginners Association’s (SCGA) summer meeting at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville in July. “Once a ginner accepts the reality that we are in challenging times, he can move on to what he should do about it,” says Tim Price, SCGA executive vice president. “Everybody wants to find a way to work through all of this.” Tim Price says ginners remain hopeful. The main program included an impressive lineup of speakers, and the highlight was the final presentation from Anthony Tancredi of Louis Dreyfus Commodities in Memphis. Not surprisingly, he focused on the cotton market in India and China and the future ramifications for the U.S. market. Price says all Mid- South ginners are aware of how cotton acreage has decreased in the last few years. The drop was particularly significant in 2015 because of low cotton prices. For example, initial projections called for 176,000 cotton acres in Tennessee. But unexpected weather conditions, low cotton prices and competition from grain crops wound up lowering cotton acreage to 100,000. “There’s no question that these are difficult situations, but our members are looking down the road,” Price says. “They are looking for ways to be more efficient. Most importantly, they are looking for ways to get past this situation. That proves to me that they are truly innovative.” Read More »

Miracle In Monticello

Miracle in Monticello

• By Carroll Smith, Senior Writer • Transform My Community Contest Winners Announced Grand Prize Winner: A.J. Hood, Cotton Producer, Tillar, Ark. First Place Winner: Steve Robert, Cotton Consultant, Wynne, Ark. Second Place Winner: Frank Phelps, Cotton Consultant, Mer Rouge, La. Third Place Winner: Stephanie Miller, Cotton Producer, Boaz, Ala. Fourth Place Winner: Bob & Stoney Stonestreet, Cotton Consultants, Clarksdale, Miss. ... Read More »

TCGA Members Adjust To New Challenges

A large crowd attended TCGA’s general session at the summer meeting in Austin, Texas.

Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association (TCGA) members know how to adapt. No matter how unusual the production environment or number of issues, this organization usually finds a way to adjust quickly. Not surprisingly, members had plenty to talk about at TCGA’s Summer Meeting recently at the Barton Creek Resort in Austin, Texas. “We certainly discussed a wide range of issues at our meeting,” says TCGA executive vice president Tony Williams. “Our organization is optimistic and hopeful about the size of the crop our farmers can deliver this year – even though we know that some areas couldn’t even plant.” In one of his reports to the TCGA Board of Directors, Williams presented data that supports the idea that a large cotton crop is possible this year – despite lower planted acreage statewide. The latest USDA crop report pegs cotton acreage in Texas at 5.2 million acres. That is a reduction of one million acres compared to 2014. Read More »

iPiPE – A New Tool For Pest Management


The first iPiPE design originated 10 years ago with the soybean rust website, which became known as Integrated Pest Management PiPE or ipmPiPE. The ipmPiPE was a collaboration of Extension professionals in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The ipmPiPE offered IT tools, pest observations and models to meet the information requirements for the economical management of invasive and endemic crop pests. With its awardwinning success at monitoring soybean rust and providing guidelines for its control, the ipmPiPE design was extended to other geographies, crops and pests, such as the Legume, North Central, Onion, Pecan and Cucurbit ipmPiPEs. The PiPE design took another evolutionary step with the integrated PiPE or iPiPE. The iPiPE has advanced IT features, including the modernization of data collection (i.e. electronic records versus paper notes) and storage (central database for data sharing); scouting apps for mobile devices; pest alerts to provide lead time for implementing control practice and multi-form derivative products from weather, crop and pest models to support Read More »

Record Rainfall Creates Surprises

One reason I like production agriculture is because no two years are ever alike. You have to muster all your agronomic skills to deal with the crazy situations that Mother Nature hands to you. This year’s craziness has been continuous rainfall at planting time when we were supposed to be experiencing a drought. We received so much rain that fields were planted piecemeal as opportunities arose. In many cases, planting opportunities boiled down to having only a few hours in which to plant rather than several consecutive days. This is the first time in my 35 years as an agricultural consultant in the Plainview, Texas, area that rainfall has delayed cotton planting to the extent that many producers made the decision to switch from cotton to sorghum or corn because the probability of maturing an irrigated cotton crop that was planted in June was significantly diminished.So, what’s next? On the positive side, most areas are starting with a full soil profile of moisture. This will be beneficial to all crops we grow. But, if drought conditions do arrive later in the season, a full soil profile at planting will be of little consequence without timely in-season rains or irrigations. Read More »

Farmers Unhappy With EPA’s Water Rule

Business owners around the country have joined with farmers and ranchers in speaking out on the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. More than 30 states also oppose the rule. Yet, even in the face of mounting opposition, the EPA still isn’t listening. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy has unveiled her latest, campaign-style WOTUS spin, calling the effort ... Read More »