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Mark Rogers is he growing strip-till cotton on fields where calves have wintered on ryegrass, and yields on those fields are consistently better than for his conventional cotton.
Unlike the long-term commitment for poultry, Mark says fattening calves overwinter “can be whatever you want it to be — once you sell them in the spring, you’re not obligated to do it again if you don’t want to.
“I like working with calves, and the ryegrass/calves/cotton program has worked well for me. I’ve been doing it 12 years now, adding fencing for another 40 acres to 60 acres each year.”
In addition to the cotton and calves enterprises, the Rogers have 155 acres of peanuts.
“Rather than taking them to a buying point for processing and commercial uses, we sell them green, out of our shop here on the farm. There is really a good market for green peanuts — a lot of people come out of New Orleans and buy them by the truckload to resell for boiling.
“We grow three varieties, with staggered plantings starting in late March and going into early July. We have 35 acres of Valencias, a smaller size peanut, which we started digging in early July. They’ll yield 1 ton to 1.5 tons per acre. We grow about 60 acres of Virginias, a medium-size peanut, which yield 2 tons to 2.5 tons per acre, and 60 acres of Super Jumbos, with about the same yield. By staggering planting and harvesting, we’ll have peanuts to sell from early July all the way to Thanksgiving.”
Back in the 1970s, Mark says, “My father and his uncle, Dennis Mitchell, were growing peanuts under the government quota system and shared equipment. They grew runner-type peanuts for the oil market. After the quota system was abolished, they were so far away from the mills that there wasn’t much profit growing peanuts for the market, so they switched to producing strictly for green sales.
“Our operation and his uncle’s are now separate — we’re friendly competitors — and we’ve expanded a little each year. We do only minimal shaking and cleaning after digging the peanuts, then bag them and put them in the cooler until they’re picked up.”
Mark says he expects to continue with his cotton-behind-calves program for the immediate future.
“My father is getting to the point he may want to retire one of these days, and I don’t see myself growing 1,200 acres of cotton long term. There’s only so much I can do without stretching things.”