Why did they stay with cotton, rather than joining the crowd to corn and soybeans?

“There were a number of considerations,” Bill says. “We hadn’t run our combine in a long time, we’d sold our corn head and grain buggies, and we didn’t have the trucks we’d need to haul grain to the elevator (we both hate driving grain trucks). The last year we’d grown corn there were a lot of aflatoxin problems and some growers had loads turned down. Also, about that time, everyone was beginning to worry about Asian soybean rust.

“Every time we’d sit down to do budgets, we couldn’t figure any way to make the economics work with corn and soybeans without having a lot more acres and having to buy more equipment. So, we just decided to stick with cotton and devote our full attention to growing the best cotton possible as economically as possible. In retrospect, we feel it was a good decision.

“When we started growing Bollgard 33, we had the highest yield we’d ever made, even though we’d reduced our acreage. We averaged over two bales per acre — not bad for hill cotton — and wished we had planted more.”

They’ve grown Roundup Ready cotton ever since, says Bill. “We’ve stuck with the Roundup system because it’s less expensive for us, and if things go wrong, as they did last year with all the rain that required a lot of replanting (some for the third time), we know that Monsanto will work with us.

“Our varieties are all Deltapine: We have 0912, 0924, 1028, and 1034; all are Roundup Ready and Bt Flex. The Flex trait is a big advantage for us. We also have about 10 acres of several varieties in a test plot in cooperation with the Extension Service.

“It seems that major changes in techniques and technologies occur about every five years or so, and we’ve always done our best to adopt them.

“That doesn’t mean we go out and buy new everything. We’re running older equipment, all bought used; we have no GPS. Our spray rigs do have controllers and we have monitors on the planters, a nice technology advance that allows us to do field prep work all day and plant at night, if we need to.”

They have a lot of variation in soil types, Larry notes, and “we’ve considered getting variable rate technology, but we just aren’t ready to make that investment yet.

“We were probably the first in the county to move to eight-row equipment — everyone else had gone to six-row — but, for us, it was a matter of economics. It was a tremendous improvement in terms of time and labor.”

While their fields are scattered and fairly small — the largest is about 50 acres — Bill says they’re all within a three-mile radius of their shop, so they don’t have to move equipment long distances. Their cotton goes to Scruggs Gin near Belden, Miss., about 15 miles away.