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Richard Gaona is this year's 2024 High Cotton honoree for the Southwest. Take a look at his operation and learn the keys to his cotton production success.

Shelley E. Huguley, Editor

February 15, 2024

14 Slides

Roby, Texas, cotton producer Richard Gaona calls himself a “skip-row guy.” He cites this field management practice as key to his cotton production success -- a technique that “always produces cotton.” Gaona, who’s been growing cotton for nearly half a century on the Texas Rolling Plains, is this year’s Southwest High Cotton Award winner.  


Gaona and his wife Judy produce 3,000 acres of dryland cotton and 200 irrigated, along with 1,350 acres of wheat and hay and 700 pasture acres for their commercial Angus beef cattle. 

Limited irrigation and drought are reoccurring issues in his region. He credits skip-row planting, contour terracing, crop rotation and cover crops on his irrigated ground for helping him conserve water while increasing production. Years of participating in field variety trials have helped him determine the most adaptable cottonseed for his soils. FiberMax has proven most consistent.  

As Gaona’s management strategies continue to evolve, he’s most recently been experimenting with root growth stimulants, allowing him to reduce fertilizer use.  

Service within his community and cotton industry is also a passion, an attribute Gaona credits to his father and first-generation Texas landowner Jeronimo.   

To learn more about his operation and secrets to his success, follow this link.

Related:Richard Gaona named Southwest High Cotton winner

High Cotton winners

The other regional winners are Andy Wendland, Autaugaville, Ala.Edward Greer, Rayville, La.— Midsouth; and Jerry Rovey, Buckeye, Ariz. — West.

The High Cotton Award is sponsored by Americot, BASF Stonevilee/FiberMax, Deltapine, Dyna-Gro, Helena, John Deere, PhytoGen and Syngenta.

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High Cotton

About the Author(s)

Shelley E. Huguley

Editor, Southwest Farm Press

Shelley Huguley has been involved in agriculture for the last 25 years. She began her career in agricultural communications at the Texas Forest Service West Texas Nursery in Lubbock, where she developed and produced the Windbreak Quarterly, a newspaper about windbreak trees and their benefit to wildlife, production agriculture and livestock operations. While with the Forest Service she also served as an information officer and team leader on fires during the 1998 fire season and later produced the Firebrands newsletter that was distributed quarterly throughout Texas to Volunteer Fire Departments. Her most personal involvement in agriculture also came in 1998, when she married the love of her life and cotton farmer Preston Huguley of Olton, Texas. As a farmwife, she knows first-hand the ups and downs of farming, the endless decisions made each season based on “if” it rains, “if” the drought continues, “if” the market holds. She is the bookkeeper for their family farming operation and cherishes moments on the farm such as taking harvest meals to the field or starting a sprinkler in the summer with the whole family lending a hand. Shelley has also freelanced for agricultural companies such as Olton CO-OP Gin, producing the newsletter Cotton Connections while also designing marketing materials to promote the gin. She has published articles in agricultural publications such as Southwest Farm Press while also volunteering her marketing and writing skills to non-profit organizations such as Refuge Services, an equine-assisted therapy group in Lubbock. She and her husband reside in Olton with their three children Breely, Brennon and HalleeKate.

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