Ronnie and R.N. Hopper, 2015 High cotton Award winners for the Southwest region, understand the limitations of farming in the Texas Southern Plains, battling drought, wind and a diminishing water supply that limits their ability to irrigate. They adapt. They have adjusted irrigation scheduling to take advantage of their water resources. And they have moved away from a cotton-only monoculture.
Rotation, they say, is a key to success, and rotate cotton, corn and sunflower but also pay attention to market options as they determine acreage.
They got away from grain in rotation for a short time, trying to conserve moisture. Ronnie says they got back to a grain rotation for the same reason.
They like minimum-till to limit soil erosion, improve water conservation and to add organic matter to the soil.
Corn works well into their limited tillage system, providing ample crop residue to plant a succeeding cotton crop the next season. That residue also reduces damage from the frequent wind storms that jeopardize seedling cotton every spring.
Technology has also helped them limit tillage and improve yields. Transgenic varieties, irrigation technology, including some sub-surface drip, and GPS improve efficiency.
They are concerned about herbicide resistant weeds and have maintained some basic weed control techniques, in addition to new technology, to deal with this new challenge.