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Water efficiency is key to Thelanders' successWater efficiency is key to Thelanders' success

The family's 1,200-acre farm in Central Arizona is focused on sustainability

Todd Fitchette

February 24, 2022

7 Slides

Dan Thelander received 2022 Farm Press High Cotton Award for the West in recognition of his ability to maximize water use from the Central Arizona Project water. In partnership with his son Will Thelander and nephew, Todd Thelander, he managed to produce high yields on fixed supplies of water in his desert climate.

They are focused on sustainably, producing high quality cotton from about 1,200 acres of land near the central Arizona communities of Maricopa and Stanfield.

They consistently yield over 2,000 pounds per acre under a minimum till system that preserves the soil and water use. That includes cutting stocks then running a Sundance disc across the field a time or two before planting.

"We save a lot of money on tillage that way," Dan Thelander says.

His upland cotton is irrigated on buried drip tape at eight inches deep on 36-inch spacing with pressurized electric pumps. He uses small farm reservoirs to collect district water and pump through the system as necessary. The system is used to spoon-feed fertilizer to the maturing cotton crop.

Thelander also grows Durum wheat on contract and is trying a crop called guayule, a desert plant promoted for its natural rubber qualities.

About the Author(s)

Todd Fitchette

Associate Editor, Western Farm Press

Todd Fitchette, associate editor with Western Farm Press, spent much of his journalism career covering agriculture in California and the western United States. Aside from reporting about issues related to farm production, environmental regulations and legislative matters, he has extensive experience covering the dairy industry, western water issues and politics. His journalistic experience includes local daily and weekly newspapers, where he was recognized early in his career as an award-winning news photographer.

Fitchette is US Army veteran and a graduate of California State University, Chico. 

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