The Southwest cotton community gathered in Altus, Okla., March 23 at Plains Cotton Cooperative Association to celebrate Robbie Robbins, who received the 2021 High Cotton Award for the Southwest.
Farm Press and The Cotton Foundation recongized four producers during a virtual Facebook presentation, livestreaming from four locations across the Cotton Belt, including Altus. Several of Robbins' friends and family gathered in person at PCCA to watch Robbins receive his award and celebrate with a reception.
During his acceptance speech, Robbins recalled a time as a child when his grandfather traded mules for a John Deere B model tractor. "Back then you could trade mules for a tractor," he said. Today, Robbins runs five John Deere picker balers, an indication of how far agricultural technology has come.
Throughout his speech, Robbins thanked various people in the audience including his former John Deere tractor salesman Tom Yates, who was also a college roommate. "I traded with him a lot when I started out. He had me going wrong though with strippers. Pickers is the way to go. I go out to the gin of a morning, if they ginned stripped cotton that night, they gin 800 bales. If they gin picked cotton, they gin 1,100 bales. The length, strength and the amount of leaf trash and everything else is so much better with a picker."
Next, he addressed Mike Berry, the gin manager of Altus Cotton Growers, a gin Robbins help start. "Several of us (who started the gin) I consider good farmers but we didn't know much about running a gin," Robbins said as he looked at Berry. "I can remember calling Mike and hiring him on the phone. And now instead of ginning 4,000 or 5,000 bales in the fall, I looked a while ago, and we're at 154,000 bales. Mike knows how to put a gin together."
He also singled-out his farm operations manager of 25 years, Jeff Lorah, "He's been a lot of help. In fact, he's pretty well running things now."
He also directed his attention to Kevin Brinkley, PCCA CEO and president. "I was on that board (with Brinkley) 12 years," Robbins said. "It's amazing how people like that can help farmers if they want to learn to do things and do them right. It's been a blessing."
Robbins also mentioned deceased farmer Gordon Thomas. "When I went to farming here, I got a hold of two or three farms. He (Gordon) watched me. In five or six years, he came to me and said, 'I want to quit.' He had seven or eight farms. I said, 'I don't know if I can take on that many.' He agreed to keep half of it and I'd farm half of it. So, he helped me. I farmed it all the next year and have kept expanding since then.
"I've just had a lot of friends who have helped me," Robbins said as he looked at the crowd. "I know I've gone as far as I can go. It's going to be left up to my son, Jeff Lorah, Mark Nichols, and some of those other boys back there. We've got some good farmers in this area. I've had a lot of joy. I've had some disappointments, too.
"I just thank you for all of the help I've had."
Robbins also credited his wife Linda for taking care of many things on the farm. "There's a lot of things that if it wasn't for her, it would make it a lot tougher. We got married 16 years ago and we've grown a lot of cotton during that time," he said.
After the virtual presentation ended, friends and family at the Altus reception addressed Robbins, thanking him for his contribution to their lives and the farming industry. Some of their audio is included within this gallery.
Click through to see who attended the Altus celebration with Robbins and his wife Linda.
To view the live presentation, click here.
For more information about Robbins' operation and keys to success, click on the following links:
- 27th Class of High Cotton winners announced
- Robbie Robbins: Over half-a-century of cotton production
- Robbie Robbins: 2021 Southwest High Cotton winner
- A hometown High Cotton kind of celebration
Other regional winners: