Every now and then, we meet producers who remain steadfastly committed to growing cotton – regardless of how enticing market conditions might seem for another commodity. Make no mistake about it. These farmers aren’t being ruled by sentimentality. They are making sound agronomic and business decisions because they understand the value of crop rotation programs with corn, soybeans and even wheat.
These same farmers also know that they have made financial investments in cotton equipment, and it would be unwise to grow only one or two crops on their acreage. When you read our cover story on the Luckey family of West Tennessee on pages 8 and 9, you’ll see what we mean by unwavering loyalty to cotton.
The heart of this operation is Jason Luckey, his father Rege, brother Ken and nephew Zac. The farm’s total acreage is close to 4,000 acres, and it spreads from an area north of Jackson all the way to Interstate 40 to the south. You won’t find many hired hands here. It is strictly a family enterprise, and everyone has a say before final decisions are made.
The Luckeys have found that by sticking to their philosophy involving cotton, soybeans, corn and wheat, they can strike a balance that works. Soil composition remains excellent by implementing a three-year rotation cycle. Each of the three main crops – cotton, corn and soybeans – constitutes about 1,500 acres – with wheat supplementing the remaining acreage. And, yes, there is a cattle business, and that makes this a genuine diversified farm.
Jason says it’s tempting to think about “following the market” and dramatically changing the crop mix. But he also knows that the family’s desire to keep cotton in the rotation has a positive impact on corn, soybeans and even wheat. In other words, why change when this combination remains so consistent? Increased yields on all of the crops reinforces that point.
Don’t get the idea that the Luckeys are rigid in their thinking. Far from it. They are willing to be open minded about all kinds of new approaches to farming. For instance, they recently purchased a new round module cotton picker from John Deere. And they have even explored the possibility of implementing an irrigation system on their dryland acreage. It’s just a question of not making snap decisions. They would rather do research and discuss the issue before they pull the trigger.
However, one fact is obvious. Like many other farmers across the Belt, they will never abandon cotton. This crop is a part of their farm, and they can’t imagine it any other way.
If you have comments, send them to: Editor, Cotton Farming Magazine, 1010 June Road, Suite 102, Memphis, Tenn., 38119. Or send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.