Louisiana farmer Hank Rabb was getting ready to switch on the irrigation pumps when a reporter and a nice, steady rain arrived on his farm at the same time one morning. “I’m going to have to put you on the payroll,” Rabb said later, as puddles of water began to appear between rows of corn, cotton and soybeans.

In mid-June, Rabb’s crops were early, looking good – some soybeans had already lapped the middles – and have been relatively free of problems so far. With a few more timely rains, 2012 could be good year for Rabb and other Louisiana producers.

Rabb farms about 2,400 acres of cotton, 800 acres of soybeans, 1,500 acres of corn and a little over 300 acres of wheat around Waterproof, La. Rabb was recently named Louisiana Farmer of the Year, a program started in 1998 as a partnership with the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Network, Louisiana Farm Bureau and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry as a way to honor Louisiana’s No. 1 industry, agriculture.

He is a fourth generation farmer who understands the benefits of rotation, good fertility and timely management. While he produces a multitude of grain or oilseed crops for their good yields and better prices, cotton still has his heart. “I have a soft spot for it.”

Rabb has a hands-on approach to farming; he wants to know what’s going on in his fields at all times. The course of a season could turn quickly on a crop condition or disease. For Rabb, intense management is standard operating procedure.

Reprot: Experts project a 15.8 million bale U.S. cotton crop

To prepare his ground for cotton after corn, Rabb cuts corn stalks, subsoils with Unverferth inline subsoiler and beds up as soon after harvest as possible. The next spring, he’ll burndown, using a combination of herbicides that keep resistance management in mind, including Valor and Direx. “You want different layers of herbicides,” he says. “Use something different every time you go out there to get different modes of action.”

Rabb will start planting cotton from April 5 to April 10 with two John Deere XP planters and may use Ammo behind the planter for cutworms. At planting, “another herbicide may go down after the planter. “The idea is to keep it clean all the time.”

Cotton varieties include ST 5288 B2F and DP 1137 B2RF. He also plants some LibertyLink varieties, “just to try something different. I’m interested in seeing how the LibertyLink varieties are going to yield. The technology has to prove itself, and I hope it does. It’s going to give you another option in weed control.”

The Deltapine variety was planted on Rabb’s heavier ground, “and I’ve had a lot of luck with it.”

This season, all Rabb’s cotton received a treatment for thrips early on, “but it’s been a pretty light year so far. We just have scattered plant bug pressure right now (mid-June). We’ve been around one time on plant bugs, and now we’re just spot spraying for them.”