Twin brothers Doyle and Daryl Schniers, who farm near the Wall Community in Tom Green County, Texas, were named National Cotton Council’s 2017 Cotton Marketer of the Year at the 2018 Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio, Texas, in January.
While Daryl may be the oldest, being born first, it’s Doyle that lays claims to being the best looking and the one really in charge since he says he kicked Daryl out of their mother’s womb first.
When they aren’t giving each other a hard time, the duo is marketing their cotton acres, something they began pursuing when they were not completely happy with the results they were receiving in the pool.
“We weren’t totally satisfied,” says Doyle, who with Daryl, farms 7,000 to 8,000 acres of cotton. “The pool is not for everybody. We kind of feel like, you plant your crop, you raise it all year long, you want to feel what it’s like to harvest it and maybe we want to take on the challenge of marketing it ourselves. So, we’ve done that to a certain extent. We do hedge some of our crop.”
Daryl, says what really got them out of the pool was when cotton got an LDP payment. “We could take advantage of that LDP change -- you kind of knew what it was going to change to. The markets would be up or down, so you could take advantage of one or the other of those. That’s kind of when we got out of some of the pools, when we could automatically make a cent or two per pound in that market, just by playing with dates with the LDPs.”
Marketing is not a perfect science for the brothers, who say their marketing plan often changes. “It’s not a scientific deal for us. We don’t necessarily do the same thing every year --it’s a little bit of speculation in our minds,” says Doyle. “Before harvest, at some point, we’ll hedge some percentage of our crop. And then we market most of it to a combination of six or seven buyers.”
The Schniers brothers say Wall Co-operative Gin also helps them with pricing, along with prices they get on their own. “We’ll evaluate those prices and go from there,” Doyle adds.
In their farming operation, their responsibilities are not identical but go hand-in-hand, with Doyle responsible for the paperwork, bills and insurance and Daryl, who is more geared to the hands-on work, the actual farming, according to Doyle, but he helps out when needed.
They both agree the secret to their marketing success is that there’s two of them. Actually, they’ll tell you that since their sons graduated from college and returned to the family farm, it’s the five of them. “We can always talk,” says Doyle. “We have more eyes and ears out there [to be aware]of what’s happening, what people are saying.”
While the twin brothers have a broker they use, their sons also work with brokers. “So we get to talk about what other brokers are saying and suggesting,” says Doyle.
“It’s not just one broker,” adds Daryl.
“So it really benefits us to hear different angles from different people, to discuss, ‘Why is this one thinking this?’ And, ‘Why is this one plumb off?’ So we try to weigh those things out,” says Doyle.
Daryl says collaborating with their sons also brings a different outlook on the decisions they make. “They’re from another generation, too, so they’ve got a different perspective.”
“They’re a lot more tech-savvy,” adds Doyle. “A lot more tech-savvy,” emphasizes Daryl.
“It’s actually helped us. A lot of older people can’t work an iPhone, the GPS systems in tractors, so they are much sharper at that. When they went to college, they actually had computers, we barely had computers,” says Daryl.
Farming cotton for this identical duo began in 1979, when tragedy struck their family. “We got into our first semester of college and our dad passed away and that’s how we got into the farming business,” remembers Doyle.
“We actually quit in the middle of our first semester because it was harvest and he got put in the hospital with stomach cancer, so we had to stop school to harvest his cotton,” recalls Daryl.
Not only are they twins but the brothers of five sisters, four younger and one older. “There were actually six of us at home when dad passed away. There was one older one that had just gotten married, so we came back. And here we are, 38 years later.”
The brothers farm irrigated and dryland cotton, which they often rotate behind wheat. In 2017, they also grew and marketed corn for the first time in years. They also built their own grain storage. “We’ve gotten to the point where we market most of the grain ourselves -- we’re storing most of it and selling it at a later date.”
When asked what they’ll do differently in 2018, Doyle replies, “A lot of stuff is planning. We want to do more minimum till. We want to rotate wheat and cotton back more than what we’ve been doing. We’re doing some strip-till with some of that and like it, so we plan on doing more of that. And maybe pray more…”
“I think he said it all—he’s the boss,” concludes Daryl.