Tuesday, June 18, 2024

It Was A Winter To Remember


Our northern friends will claim that southerners moan and groan way too much during the winter months. We simply don’t know what cold weather is all about, or so the critics say. When the weather forecasts call for two inches of snow, we panic and clean out the grocery stores. Our critics may be right about that. We can never appreciate what a winter day in Minnesota or Wisconsin is really like. However, if you’ve followed the weather trends in the last couple of months, we’ve had our fair share of below-normal temperatures in the South – not to mention some major snow and ice events.

It seems like all of this started back in the first week of January when we all headed to the Beltwide Cotton Conferences in New Orleans. It was bitter cold in the Crescent City, and was “off the charts” back in Memphis where it hovered in single digits for several days. Then came a February that was equally as bad in many parts of the Mid-South with more snow, ice and frigid temperatures.

I recall these warm and fuzzy memories because the cold weather certainly caught the attention of some farmers in this area – particularly in the Missouri Bootheel region. As you’ll see in our cover story on pages 10 and 11, Missouri producer Steve Droke and his son Skyler have plenty of experience in dealing with winter weather, and they aren’t disillusioned about whether cold temperatures, snow and ice can make resistant weeds disappear. For them, it’s business as usual. They continue to implement rigorous residual herbicide combinations.

After spending a day with them while the ice and snow still covered their 2,500-acre farm, it was informative to walk in their fields and hear them talk. They gave their own analysis of how pigweed and marestail seeds can survive under a crust of ice and then quickly emerge when warm temperatures arrive. To hear them talk about this serious issue, it sounded like I was talking to two private detectives confident of solving a big mystery.

Their advice to farmers in other regions of the Belt was simple and direct. If you hope to control resistant weeds, it pays to “start clean and stay clean.” That means implementing an effective burndown program and having a zero tolerance for any weed outbreaks.

The Drokes aren’t the only cotton farmers with this philosophy. However, it made a lasting impression as we walked across frozen fields. If anybody can deal with this issue, it would be a farmer-son duo planning ahead while snow blankets their farmland.

If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 1010 June Road, Suite 102, Memphis, Tenn., 38119. Or send e-mail to: thorton@onegrower.com.

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