Ricky Campbell can nearly guarantee a 1,000-pound or better cotton crop. But it’s hard to beat a strong crop rotation of corn, soybeans and wheat on his northeast Louisiana family farm.

Campbell farms with his sons, Ricky Jr. and Johnathon, around Winnsboro, La. Like other Delta areas, cotton ruled agriculture here for well over a century. However, with December 2012 cotton futures priced just a little above 70 cents a pound, these days they are more interested in crops measured in bushels.

Their corn, wheat and soybean rotations help them take advantage of stronger markets for grain, even though they have backed off some. Their seriousness about wheat, corn and soybeans was evident at wheat harvest this spring as they ran a just-off-the-showroom-floor New Holland combine. “We want to make sure we have equipment that will allow for a smooth harvest,” Ricky Jr. says.

This year’s wheat crop made 60 bushels to 70 bushels per acre and was followed by double-cropped soybeans. Those will be followed by corn next spring, then wheat next fall. “That’s a rotation that is working well for us and helps us get the most out of our irrigation water,” Ricky says, as he manages his 39th year of farming in the region.

Much of the success of their program is attributed to a minimum tillage plan that involves getting the most out of wheat straw following harvest in May. “We farm mostly silt loam soil,” Ricky Jr. says. “By not burning the straw and planting into the stubble, we keep the soil mellow for double-cropped beans and helps keep the ground covered to hold back weed pressure.”

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Double-cropped soybeans are planted in 38-inch rows and sown at a rate of 9-10 seeds per foot, or about 50 pounds per acre. Beans are treated to prevent insect damage to young plants.

“We apply a fungicide to the soybean seed prior to planting, based on our consultant’s advice,” Ricky Jr. adds, “We also apply an inoculant to the seed to help boost nodulation. We’ll fly on a foliar fungicide to prevent possible disease damage up to the R-5 level.”

In their corn program, all hybrids are stacked with Roundup Ready and Bt genes except for the required refuge with non-Bt. The plant population is 32,000 plants to 33,000 plants per acre. “We haven’t seen any insect or weed resistance yet in our corn,” Ricky Jr. says. “Our main weed problem is with grass. A tank mix of atrazine and a residual herbicide helps control grasses.