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My Strong Cotton | SPECIAL REPORT
This fall, Cotton Farming editor Carroll Smith captured stories from farmers planting Deltapine varieties, looking for high yield and good fiber quality potential. Following is her special report on Nick McMichen in Centre, Alabama.
Growing cotton is second nature to fourth-generation Alabama producer Nick McMichen. He grew up on the family farm where his favorite pastime was riding the cotton picker.
Today, McMichen farms 2,200 acres of no-till cotton, 500 of which are pivot-irrigated. He also plants a cover crop mixture of rye, tillage radishes and crimson clover on about one-third of his acres. This practice builds humus in the soil to help with water infiltration.
This year, 70 percent of McMichen’s crop was planted to DP 1646 B2XF and about 15 percent was planted to DP 1725 B2XF. He also had several varieties in his Deltapine New Product Evaluator (NPE) plots and Auburn University’s official variety trials.
“DP 1646 B2XF is a full-season variety that has turned out to be some of the best cotton I have ever grown,” McMichen says. “It has tremendous fiber quality and the yields have just been phenomenal. I would say DP 1646 B2XF is the No. 1 variety in this area.
“In the past two years, the quality of the Deltapine varieties has gone through the roof. Yields were making those jumps in the earlier varieties, but now we have the fiber quality to go along with the yield. Fiber length and micronaire have improved to the point that we are currently getting premiums.”
Gin And Marketing Services
McMichen and his wife, Freida, are also involved with cotton beyond the field. In 2000, he and Freida’s family, who owns Jordan Cotton Inc., partnered with Lindsey Bros. Inc. to form Cherokee Gin and Cotton Co. — a full-service gin and marketing facility in Centre. Freida, a fifth-generation cotton merchant, buys several thousand bales per year with their daughter, Mindy, under Jordan Cotton Inc.
“We have made a concerted effort and investment to provide not only a gin service but also a marketing service for our growers in seven counties and two states,” McMichen says. “Last year, we ginned 64,000 bales — the most cotton in the state of Alabama. We are building a new gin a few miles away that will have the latest equipment and technology designed to preserve fiber quality.”
The gin also provides a quality and quantity of bales recap for its customers on all the varieties that are ginned each season.
“When the merchants see that I have good DP 1646 B2XF, for example, they want our cotton and will pay extra for it,” McMichen says. “I have gotten a multiple-cent premium on good quality, long-staple, premium micronaire cotton. And my loan average was 2½ cents better than the gin average across the board last year due to planting Deltapine cotton.”
Commitment To Quality
“U.S. cotton is the gold standard because we have good quality,” he says. “The work Deltapine is doing in keeping U.S. cotton the No. 1 product in the world is very valuable since we depend heavily on the export market.
“I think improved breeding has made cotton quality better today. The breeders know that farmers need high-quality cotton to compete, and the folks at Deltapine make selections based not only on yields but also on good fiber packages. Deltapine is committed to helping us supply the merchants and mills with quality cotton.
“This year, from top to bottom, I believe we have the best crop we have ever had. No doubt about it. With Deltapine cotton, I have the whole package — yield and fiber quality. That’s a great combo for success.”
Although farmers are always challenged by the weather, such as the hurricane that devastated south Georgia this year, growing cotton is his passion, McMichen says.
“Cotton is our bread and butter and is embedded in our families, farms, churches and communities. We have made a commitment to it, and I love going to work every day.”
Go to cottonfarming.com to hear the “My Strong Cotton” special reports about how Deltapine varieties are providing strong solutions to cotton farmers.