I like the High Cotton Awards. It’s a celebration of the industry I hold close to my heart – the people, the crop and the innovation that has been part of what we do from early on.
I know many of the winners, having worked throughout the Cotton Belt for well over 20 years. They are good people with much to offer the industry beyond the innovation on their own farms.
Many are leaders on the local, state and national level. They are managers who continue to advance as technology and technique continues to move forward.
If we use the span of 26 years the award has been presented to highlight where we've come as an industry, it's been a spectacular run.
In 1995 when the first High Cotton Award was presented, we were just beginning to see what genetic technology could bring to the cotton field. Breeders have always looked for high yields, as well as advantages in quality, drought resistance and insect control, but with biotech tools those advantages have moved into production at an amazing pace.
Tools like CRISPR have the potential to get even more biotech traits into the crop more quickly.
While biotech is important, High Cotton Award winners and others in the industry know that what happens in the soil is just as important as what comes out of the top of the crop. Reduced tillage has become a best management practice in a great number of operations and our soils are currently as healthy as they've ever been.
Research and data collected by Field to Market, show that cotton growers have saved water, reduced pesticide use, lowered energy inputs and reduced soil loss substantially in the last 26 years.
I hadn't met this year's Midsouth winner, Doug Scott, until I drove onto his farm outside of Sikeston, Missouri. I must admit, I often judge a grower by the appearance of their operation.
Scott's place was not a disappointment. He takes great pride in keeping up the farm, a portion of which has been in his family now for four generations.
It was clean and everything looked to be in great order. He talked about growing up on the farm and the fact that his two sons were now farming with him.
He also made sure to note he could not have done what he is doing today without the help of family and those that work with him on the operation. At one point he said that those he works with are exceptional.
I appreciate exceptional. Moreover, I appreciate those that recognize when they have a good team and treat them accordingly. I think that Doug is one of those guys.
I have had the occasion to work in some way with each one of this year's winners over time. They are exceptional.
Congratulations to all the winners!
Delta: Doug Scott
Southeast: Jerry Hammill
Southwest: Robbie Robbins
Western: Hansen Ranches