What is in this article?:
- Farmer in Louisiana's Morganza spillway reflects on 2011 floods, challenges.
- George Lacour 2012 president of Southern Cotton Ginners Association.
George Lacour, Morganza, La., is the president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association.
A fifth generation farmer, most of the land Lacour’s ancestors owned is now in the spillway. Back in the 1930s, his grandfather had to move out of the part of the spillway that flooded in 2011.
“He was with a cotton gin sitting on the river. In the late 1800s, they loaded boats with cotton that had just come out of the gin. Of course, in those days, we had a make-shift levee.”
Then, the boll weevil put folks out of the cotton business in the area. Soybeans became valuable “so we went for a long time – in the 1960s and 1970s -- without cotton.”
During cotton downturns in the Point Coupee area, “what saved us was the area never was 100 percent in the crop. So, when everyone else took big hits in the ginning and cotton industry, we were able to absorb the blow much easier. We’ve always been diversified here, doing the corn/cotton rotation since the 1980s.”
Soybeans still “compete mightily” with cotton in the area. “We may squeeze in 10,000 acres of cotton alongside 100,000 acres of beans in the region. Along with that, there are about 20,000 acres of sugarcane and, maybe, 25,000 acres of corn and 20,000 acres of rice.”
Going forward, “our biggest challenge in this parish is to find young farmers who want to grow cotton. With the price of other commodities, most young farmers would mostly rather take the easy way out and grow soybeans. It’s hard to blame them with the current price of beans.”
Along with his neighbor, Paul Roy, Lacour got back in the cotton business around 1987. The pair, without a place to gin, hauled cotton to the next parish.
Cotton came back when beans “fell out in the late 1980s. In 1989, we made a good cotton crop and in 1990, the parish’s cotton acreage really jumped. But we had cotton picked in late August that wasn’t ginned until Christmas Day. Obviously, we needed another gin.”
Tri-Parish Gin was built in 1991 about a quarter-mile from the river dock in the industrial park near Lettsworth, in the northern part of Point Coupee Parish. About a dozen growers came together with outside investors and “scraped together” enough money to build.
Due to the gin’s location, it’s worked well strategically. “We’re able to haul cotton out of three parishes within five miles.
“We will haul cotton a long way. Around 2000, we hauled cotton 80 miles. We’ve hauled cotton out of Mississippi. Generally, though, we’ll haul in about a 40-mile radius.”