He’d always had an interest in cotton, he says, but it wasn’t until 2005 that he tried a small acreage.

“It didn’t turn out well, and I didn’t grow any more until 2011, when the attractive price outlook encouraged me to try it again,” he says. “Last year was a great one for cotton in this area; some of the highest yields in the state were over here in the prairie region. Mine averaged 2.1 bales per acre.”

This year, he planted 320 acres of Deltapine DP 1137 B2RF and DP 1048 B2RF and Phytogen 499 WRF.

“Cotton is a good rotation crop for me,” says Ben, who farms near West Point, Miss. “It’s more tolerant of our heavy soils and dryland production than soybeans — it’s hard to make a consistently good soybean yield here with no irrigation. I’d love to be able to irrigate, but the way most of my fields are situated, it just isn’t feasible.”

Ben is a shareholder in the new gin and says he feels the facility “represents a good opportunity to strengthen the future of cotton in this area. It’s something that’s definitely needed.”