High Cotton Winners Recognized
Recipients of the 2020 Farm Press-Cotton Foundation High Cotton Awards and regions they represent are cotton producers: Larry Ford, Greenwood, Fla., Southeast; Matt/Kelly Griggs, Humboldt, Tenn., Mid-South; Dan Smith, Lockney, Texas, Southwest; and Greg Wuertz, Coolidge, Ariz., West.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Recipients of the 2020 Farm Press-Cotton Foundation High Cotton Awards and regions they represent are: Larry Ford, Greenwood, Fla., Southeast; Matt/Kelly Griggs, Humboldt, Tenn., Mid-South; Dan Smith, Lockney, Texas, Southwest; and Greg Wuertz, Coolidge, Ariz., West. These cotton producers and their families were honored here today at the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show in Memphis.
The High Cotton Awards were begun by Farm Press Publications and the National Cotton Council in 1994 to demonstrate that cotton growers and their families are concerned about the environment and are the true stewards of their land, water, and air.
The program, which now has recognized more than 100 of this nation’s cotton producers, is supported by a Farm Press grant to The Cotton Foundation.
The 2020 awards recipients farm in distinctly different regions under a range of environmental challenges and regulations. They also vary somewhat in their production practices and management philosophies, but they all share a common goal of farming sustainably and passing the land onto the next generation.
Ford, for example, places an intense focus on irrigation because he farms in a watershed and spring basis under strict water-use restrictions. He uses soil tensiometers, which deliver data to his phone to help schedule irrigation, in most fields. He also uses variable rate technology, which conserves water and reduces irrigation costs.
Wuertz also places an emphasis on conserving water – using subsurface drip where possible and only flood irrigating fields that have been laser leveled. He rotates his cotton with wheat or alfalfa and runs minimum tillage equipment to oxygenate the soil and enhance decomposition. He also tries to eliminate early insecticide sprays to promote beneficial insect populations.
The Griggs place great importance on preserving soil, which they consider the most important resource in their family operation. They credit no-till for maintaining their soil but use cover crops and a strict crop rotation program to restore the soil.
Smith, who has been transitioning from conventional till to no-till since 1995 says he is now sold on no-till which saves wear on his equipment and reduces his fuel costs.