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DFP-Brobb-CottonBoll1.JPG Brad Robb
In many ways, growing cotton is truly an art.

It's all about interpretation

Farming, like art, is interpretational.

At the 2019 Cotton Focus Meeting at the West Tennessee Research and Education Center in Jackson, Tenn., Darrin Dodds, Extension research professor, Mississippi State University, told growers at the start of his presentation: “It’s irrelevant to me what technology you plant. Plant what works best for your operation.” His advice was concise and clear. You know your farm better than anyone else.

A recent quote by Dr. Dan Fromme, Extension agronomist at the Louisiana State University AgCenter in Alexandria, La., in an article penned by Farm Press Senior Director of Content, Ron Smith, says, “Cotton defoliation is a bit of art and a bit of science.” Fromme states the “bit of art” refers to the timing of defoliation.

Everyone surely agrees that art is painfully interpretational — and science, while often used most appropriately to prove or disprove, is often viewed as being interpretational in many aspects as well.

The same could be said for many musical genres. I have realized that the music I love and have been playing most of my life, bluegrass, is extremely interpretational. Bill Monroe is recognized by most as the Father of Bluegrass Music. There are still thousands of bluegrass fans and musicians across the world who fervently adhere to the belief that bluegrass music should be played one way — “…like Bill did it.”

I could not disagree more. If every bluegrass band tried to mimic the style or sound of Bill Monroe, the music would stagnate. I offer proof of that through the proliferation of the music to new bluegrass fans thanks to artists like Allison Krauss & Union Station.

So many people have told me they did not even like bluegrass before ‘Oh Brother Where Art Thou’ – and while the musicians who recorded that sound track intended for their work to sound “old timey” or reminiscent of music from that era, their current works sound nothing like that, nor like the music of Bill Monroe.

While every bluegrass band surely appreciates and gives respect to Bill Monroe, many bands forge their own artistic paths…through their own musical interpretations of the general genre of bluegrass.

Growing environments for farming operations across the world are as varied and distinct as is the difference between bluegrass music and rap. (Notice I didn’t put the word music behind rap.)

The beauty of — and most farmers would justifiably argue that — the challenge in farming, is learning the idiosyncrasies of the many impacts and influences from their region’s growing environment on their farming decisions and techniques. From annual rainfall levels and temperature averages, to soil types and pests, farming is rife with inconsistencies that require interpretive decisions.

Based on some of the art (and I use that term loosely) I’ve seen in my time, I respect farmers more for their artistic efforts to plant a seed and work to create healthy plants that feed and clothe the world.

TAGS: Harvest
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