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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 Billy Don Hinkle in Marianna, Arkansas.
Mother Nature did her best this year to try the patience of Billy Don Hinkle, who farms about 6,000 acres of mostly irrigated cotton in Lee County, Arkansas. A wet spring delayed planting by two weeks, and then conditions turned off hot and dry throughout the summer.
“This fall, after we picked about 1,000 acres, the rain set in again,” he says. “Weather is our biggest challenge. You never know from one day to the next what you will have to deal with.”
Hinkle says what he can depend on is Deltapine cotton. The third-generation Arkansas farmer planted DP 1646 B2XF, DP 1725 B2XF and DP 1835 B3XF in 2018.
“I grow DP 1646 B2XF because it’s adaptable for any type of ground in this area — irrigated or dryland,” he says. “I had several fields that picked 1,500 pounds per acre, and the fiber quality — more strength, longer staple and less high mic — is really good.
“I also planted DP 1835 B3XF, which was one of the new Deltapine varieties this year. It did well, and we did not have to overspray for worms. We didn’t even see any worm damage even though we had a big egg lay. We saved on insecticide plus the time it takes to run our equipment or hire a plane to spray it.
“I also like DP 1725 B2XF because it is an early variety that allows me to get in the field quicker at harvest. It typically yields well with good fiber quality.
Excellent Fiber Quality And Yield
“Deltapine cotton has always performed well for me,” he says. “I have tried other varieties, but I always come back to Deltapine.
We can get a 2- to 3-cent premium with a good fiber quality package, which boosts our operation’s return on investment.
On staple length, we are seeing a lot of 37s, 38s and sometimes even higher numbers.
“As far as yields, some of the Deltapine varieties are averaging more than 40 percent turnout at the gin. We’re picking up extra pounds per acre there.”
Hinkle says improved fiber quality is important because world demand is for quality cotton. The Field to Closet initiative, created by Nashville-based consultant Jernigan Global, familiarizes cotton brand retailers with how Deltapine brand’s superior fiber quality can now be marketed to produce premium textiles.
“I think the Field to Closet initiative will be a good thing,” Hinkle says. “When people buy t-shirts or blue jeans, they can see where the cotton came from and identify the farmer who grew it. They can trace the cotton all the way back from the wearing apparel to the farm.
“Deltapine delivers on both yield and fiber quality. If I can pick up premiums on the quality and get good yields, too, that’s a win-win situation.”
To help him make decisions involving production practices such as weed control, insect control, irrigation and defoliation, Hinkle depends on his cotton consultant Blake Foust, owner of Southern Heritage Cotton Co. in Forrest City, Arkansas.
“Blake and his crew look at every field twice a week and make recommendations,” he says.
Hinkle also farms with his 26-year-old nephew, Jonathan Corter.
“Jonathan started working for me while he was in high school,” he says. “He likes to farm so I am helping him get started and expect him to take over my operation one day.”
Despite the weather challenges and hard work, Hinkle is determined to stick with the crop he knows so well.
“My dad and my grandfather farmed cotton so I have been around it all of my life,” he says. “I like watching the crop from planting the seed to seeing a pretty, white field at harvest. Cotton has always been good to me.”
Go to cottonfarming.com to hear the “My Strong Cotton” special reports about how Deltapine varieties are providing strong solutions to cotton farmers.