Cotton Flag, U.S.A.

How One South Carolina Farmer Showed His Patriotism Through Harvest

⋅ BY CASSIDY NEMEC ⋅
ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Scott Barfield, creator of the cotton flag, with his daughter Skylar on the farm.

A South Carolina farmer used his pent-up creativity in a cotton field — without relying on GPS.

Scott Barfield, a Hartsville, South Carolina, farmer, works for Gill Rogers of Rogers Brothers Farm, one of the largest farms in the state. After being with Gill for over 21 years now, he wanted an outlet for showing his American pride at the end of the 2022 cotton season. 

Last spring, Rogers Brothers Farm employees planted 48 acres of cotton on Bishopville, South Carolina, farmland. This farmland, located near Interstate 20, is rented by Rogers for cotton acres. Barfield decided to create what he suspects is the world’s largest American flag to break up the tediousness of picking cotton.

“It’s very monotonous. When we get into the fields, we try to pick them in different ways to break up that monotony,” he said. “I was in one field with our six-row picker. I’d pick six rows, then I’d skip six. After I made five or six passes like that, I was looking back at where I’d already picked and thought, ‘Well, that looks like the stripes of the flag … I wonder if I could make a flag.’”

After discussing his idea that night with his wife, he committed to it the next day.

“I started jotting down how six rows is about 15 feet so figuring how big the flag was going to be from that. I started going down this rabbit hole of looking up the largest flag in the world. It’s not a full flying flag, but this could be the largest flag in the world.”

Barfield said he went from there and mapped it all out in his head and on paper how he wanted to do it and got the stamp of approval from Gill.

In early December of 2022, after the cotton in the field was ready to be picked, Barfield finished some selective picking to create the stripes of the flag. He then positioned 50 cotton bales to represent the stars of the flag. 

“It took about three and a half hours to do the picking and three or four hours to stage the cotton modules,” he said. Barfield was not using GPS, so he “eyeballed” the whole project. The result is a 390 feet tall by 741 feet wide flag. 

Barfield comes by his love for farming naturally as his grandfather, great-grandfather and great-uncle were also farmers. He said he has already contemplated what he might do during harvest time this next season.

“I talked to Gill about it and was thinking about reaching out to Guinness to work on another one.”

With big goals and lots of potential ahead, the Rogers Brothers Farm will always have the 2022 cotton crop as one they look back on for years to come. The 2023 cotton harvest in South Carolina is bound to be an exciting one.

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