For The Love of Cotton

Carroll Smith
Carroll Smith

Cotton has always been a part of my life. I got “lost” in a cotton field as a toddler in south-central Louisiana while my parents were visiting friends. My mom rescued me although I wasn’t frightened. I was just having fun exploring the field of brilliant white bolls. As a youngster, I rode out to the farm with the family to check on the crop and ride my Quarter Horse – Mr. Law Man. That was the name he came with, so we kept it.

While in elementary school, my classmates and I would sit near an adjacent cotton field during recess and watch the crop duster make slow turns in the sky, followed by quick, low passes across the crop. As I got older, I always went to the farm at harvest time. The smell of defoliant signified the crop was ready to go. I still remember dad, with a big smile on his face, standing in the middle of the field next to the boll buggy watching the pickers run down the rows. It was a magical time. The feeling that came with bringing a crop to harvest was always exciting. My dad, who loved growing cotton, has passed, but the farm is still operating. It’s in our blood; it’s in our hearts. We love cotton.

Another family, whose roots run deep in cotton, is featured in our cover story on page 6 – “‘Cotton Brought Us To The Dance.’” Matt and Sherrie Miles from McGehee, Ark., have a rich history tied to white gold on both sides of the family. They reminisce about their fathers who were “farming neighbors” and share stories of how they got their own start with the help of Matt’s dad’s equipment and 56 acres of Sherrie’s dad’s land. Their son, Layne, and his wife, Ryane, are now part of the team as well.

Miles Farms never completely got out of cotton, but last year it dipped down to 180 acres – for them, the lowest ever. Matt recalls sitting in the office last December and January pondering his 2016 crop mix options: “Do I want to invest in a round bale picker again or try to make it on low grain prices?” They had sold their round bale picker but kept the module builders and a conventional picker. The latter could handle 180 acres of cotton but not the 3,300 acres he was contemplating planting in 2016.

With guidance from the good Lord, the family decided to buy the picker and get back into cotton in a big way. So far this year they have been blessed and are anticipating the excitement of getting “lost” in a field of brilliant white bolls.

If you have comments, please send them to: Cotton Farming Magazine, 7201 Eastern Ave., Germantown, TN, 38138. Contact Carroll Smith via email at

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