'14 High Cotton Winners Honored
The '14 Farm Press-Cotton Foundation High Cotton Awards recipients are: Southeast – Danny Darnell, Hillsboro, Ala.; Mid-South – Kenneth Hood, Gunnison, Miss.; Southwest – Steven Beakley, Ennis, Texas; and Far West – Clyde Sharp, Roll, Arizona. They and their families were honored Jan. 7 at the NCC-coordinated Beltwide Cotton Conferences.
NEW ORLEANS – The 2014 Farm Press-Cotton Foundation High Cotton Awards recipients are: Southeast – Danny Darnell, Hillsboro, Ala.; Mid-South – Kenneth Hood, Gunnison, Miss.; Southwest – Steven Beakley, Ennis, Texas; and Far West – Clyde Sharp, Roll, Arizona. They and their families were honored here today during a breakfast at the National Cotton Council (NCC)-coordinated Beltwide Cotton Conferences.
The High Cotton Awards were initiated by Farm Press and the NCC as a way to demonstrate that cotton growers and their families are concerned about the environment and are the true stewards of their land, air and water. The program, which now has recognized 79 cotton producers and celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2014, is supported by a grant to The Cotton Foundation from Farm Press Publications.
“The High Cotton Awards continue to identify producers who are the best of the best when it comes to producing a high quality, profitable crop in an environmentally responsible manner,” says Greg Frey, Farm Press Publications’ publisher.
Forrest Laws, Farm Press’ content director, noted that, “When we began the High Cotton Awards, we had no idea how long it might be before we began to exhaust our supply of conservation and environmentally-minded farmers. But each year we receive another group of nominees who have great stories to tell about what they are doing on their farms and in their communities to protect and preserve the land for future generations.”
Darnell and his two sons farm about 5,500 acres altogether, split between cotton, corn and soybeans followed by wheat. They practice minimum tillage and no-till, along with some vertical tillage. “We used to turn all of this land, but we eventually moved to conservation tillage,” he said. “We’ve always contour-farmed and terraced, and it was always in the back of our mind to switch to conservation tillage.”
Hood, who farms in partnership with three brothers, Howard, Curtis and Cary, in the Mississippi Delta, was at the forefront of a huge leap in technology that connected the dots between the Global Positioning System (GPS), Geographical Information Systems and Hood’s curiosity about the allocation of cost in agricultural production.
Beakley knows first-hand how important water and conservation are to farmers in the Southwest. Faced with drought conditions the past three seasons, he has worked to get the most use out of the water resources he has in his farming operation while relying on proper variety selection, rotation, ample fertility and plant management.
Sharp and his brother, David, were the first growers in Arizona’s Wellton-Mohawk Valley to plant Bt cotton to reduce insecticide and herbicide needs. Farming in the arid low desert that gets only 2.5 inches of average annual rainfall, the Sharps also use 100 percent GPS guidance systems in their farm equipment which improves land leveling for more efficient irrigation while reducing fuel use and dust.
For more information on this year’s High Cotton recipients, go to http://deltafarmpress.com.