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The Bright Side Of 2020?

carroll smith

Carroll Smith,
Editor

In a year that has been described as the “devil’s scourge” by so many if not literally than figuratively, I believe it’s therapeutic to push aside the negative aspects and concentrate on the positives. As I wrapped up this issue of Cotton Farming, it occurred to me that every article in the magazine shines the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel.”

It was not compiled that way by design but rather by the indomitable spirit that permeates our agricultural
industry.

In the article “60-Inch Rows: Our Hail Mary Pass At Growing Cotton,” Tensas Parish, Louisiana, farmer Darrell VendeVen describes his frustration when he and his brother, Donnie, just couldn’t make the crop turn out profitably for them anymore.

In analyzing their operation, Darrell says, “We believed we were checking all the boxes to grow a good crop. For the most part, our soil is well drained, and we irrigate a lot. We have a couple of very good consultants — Steve Crawford and Anthony Pavloff — who help us with every facet of crop production. We have the labor and machinery to get things done in a timely manner. Our yields are consistently on par with other successful growers in our area.”

Despite their best efforts, the brothers faced what they perceived as some insurmountable factors that prevented the economics of growing cotton from working out for them — high cost of production and damage from wet weather in the fall. At one point, they became so discouraged they put their picker on the market. It was a dark time when Darrell and Donnie believed they would have to drop cotton from the mix and just grow soybeans, corn and rice. It seemed inevitable.

But the VandeVens are bright, innovative farmers who refused to give up on their favorite crop. They have what I describe as “engineering minds” capable of figuring out how to rig up equipment like nobody I’ve ever seen before. Sure enough, early in the year, the brothers came up with a new game plan — a radically different approach to improve the economics of growing cotton in their part of the world.

Read about their journey and what they learned in the article on page 8.

As Thanksgiving draws near, we are reminded to be thankful for what we have and know that with perseverance, it is possible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The bright side of 2020 is that it’s almost over, and a new year provides the potential for our industry to shine.