Through the years I’ve seen plenty of cotton crops that were remarkable and memorable. And the farmers who produced those crops were equally deserving of praise for what they accomplished. When you read our cover story on pages 8 and 9, it’s hard to say what will be more significant – the spectacular 6.9-bale cotton yield or the farming couple that made it happen. Suffice it to say, we think young Vance and Mandie Smith of Big Spring, Texas, deserve to be put into a special category for what they achieved in 2013.
Where do we start in describing how this husband and wife team produced a crop that defies description and set records? First, I have to say that meeting the Smiths recently in Lubbock, Texas, was an enlightening experience. They were in town attending the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association trade show as well as the FiberMax One Ton Club dinner.
They were open and candid in recalling what it was like in 2013 when they nurtured their crop through the year. Yes, based on previous seasons, they had high expectations for excellent yields. But they were somewhat shocked when they saw the final numbers in November. They had come tantalizingly close to hitting the magical seven-bale mark. Still, how could they not be pleased after reaching 3,303 pounds?
It was the classic combination of high performing varieties, effective subsurface irrigation, timely rains and intense management. It all came together when weather conditions became ideal during late summer and early fall.
What makes this story even more appealing is how a sixth-generation Texas farmer wound up marrying a woman from South Africa after a chance meeting at a farm show in Muleshoe, Texas. She has become more than a farmer’s wife. Mandie is a spouse who operates equipment and shares in all of the farm duties. She has adapted to Texas and is so committed to cotton production that she has implemented her own unique ways of nurturing the crop.
Vance and Mandie take nothing for granted and will never become complacent as farmers. They have dealt with adversity like losing an entire dryland cotton crop. Vance even lost his mother to a farming accident when he was 18, but he has learned to persevere through the experience.
The Smiths exude youthful enthusiasm and are almost embarrassed that so much attention has come their way since achieving such a milestone in cotton production.
And what can they do for an encore in 2014? You guessed it. Aim for more than seven-bale yields!