When it comes time to making the decision on which crops to plant and how many acres to dedicate to them each season, it is always a little easier when you have a gin to support.
Bradley Moore and his farming partner and cousin, Win Moore, review 2018 field records and keep rotating corn with the only other commodity they produce on Moore Farms — cotton. “We’ll have 1,000 acres of corn and 6,000 acres of cotton again this year. That’s our standard crop mix,” says Bradley Moore, who, along with Win make up the third generation Moore farmers.
“Cotton has been grown on these west Tennessee rolling hills for many years and corn supplies the organic matter we need to keep our soils healthy. We also make as few passes across our fields as we absolutely need to. It helps that we minimum-till and no-till.”
The Moores run a Veris rig over a large portion of their acreage each year to measure those organic matter levels, an interpretation of their soil’s structure and pH levels, all leading to the necessary data to create variable rate prescriptions.
“It also lets us know where we might need some nitrogen. It’s a valuable machine because of the data it provides,” says Moore. “We save money because we are our own consultants, scout our own cotton, and design our own fertility programs.”
They use Roundup and/or dicamba for their burndown and have gotten good varietal performance from DP 1646 B2XF, DP 1820 B3XF, DP 1725 B2XF, and DP 1518 B2XF. “We’ve been working with Dr. Tyson Raper for the last few years as part of his on-farm variety trials,” says Moore. “It’s invaluable and interesting to see how the different varieties respond to our soils, our growing environment, and management practices.”
The Moores look at Raper’s variety trial program as a window into the future. “We record everything from the chemistries applied, the growing conditions when they were applied, and which ones produced the best results,” says Moore. “Like so many farmers in this area, we constantly battle resistant weeds but have been able to transfer several things to the farm that were successful in the trials. Tyson is a great asset to Tennessee farmers.”
The Moores apply Warrant over the top on most of their cotton when it is at an early stage. “We make sure it’s nice and dry before the application to keep it from dinging the young stands,” says Moore. “It’s really helped us regain a little control over these difficult-to-manage pigweeds.”
When their cotton starts fruiting and plant canopies start spreading, they know it is time to put out some mepiquat chloride. “We like to get it out a littler earlier so we can maintain control of excessive growth. We usually go with a pint an acre rate to keep from making additional trips across with smaller rates. Back when it was labeled as PIX, it was expensive, but now it’s the least expensive input we have,” says Moore.
“Plant breeders are really developing some workhorse varieties, but you learn quickly to keep them in check. We want the plants’ energy directed toward the production of fiber.”
Bradley and Win say they have been lucky the last two growing seasons. They harvested two of their best crops ever. “We feel blessed to have gotten timely rains when we needed them, and none when we didn’t,” says Moore. “We also had plenty of heat units to keep the cotton growing.”
Preserving beneficial insects is important to the Moore cousins. “We’re big believers in Centric insecticide because it seems to leave more beneficial insects in the field after an application — especially early in the season,” says Moore. “Plant bugs haven’t hit us too badly yet. We’ll usually pull the trigger when we get 13 of them per 100 sweeps.”
Despite having pivots over 1,000 acres, the irrigation machines sat idle for the most the last two years. “Anytime Mother Nature cooperates with a good rain, we know that’s money we’re saving from having to cut on pumps,” says Moore. “This year, that 1,000 acres of irrigated ground is all over cotton if we should need it.”
Technology and the gin
Moore Farms has three John Deere on-board module harvesters. “We’ve been running them for a number of years and have gone through a few trades when the time was right,” says Moore. “We even increased our cotton acres when we started using them because it lowered our labor costs.”
The family’s ginning operation, Oak Grove Gin, pressed 50,000 bales in 2018. “We always take care of our customers’ cotton first,” says Moore. “The wrapping technology on the round balers does a great job protecting the fiber qualities of our cotton if we need to leave them in the field or gin yard.”
Data from their tractors, sprayers, and harvesters is automatically transferred to www.MyJohnDeere.com.
It allows them to track every input and/or cost related to the crop. “As long as we keep our cost portfolio up to date with our latest expenses, we can look at each individual field and know exactly what we’ve spent and how much time we have put on our equipment,” says Moore. “It takes the pencil out of your hand.”
The family had two cotton warehouses and purchased an additional in 2007. “It’s another way we cut down on our overall costs,” says Moore. “It’s good for our ginning customers as well. All three of the warehouses are about 40 yards from the gin.”
Bradley and Win’s grandfather, Alex Moore, started farming the Fayette County operation in 1972. Howell Moore, Win’s father, and Bradley’s father, Tommy Moore, farmed with Alex Moore until 2006 when they purchased the gin back from Thomas Howell Fowler.
Evaluate new technologies
“After we bought the gin back, Win and I started farming as partners in the family operation,” says Bradley Moore. “We’re always open to evaluating new technologies. We’re also really close to going paperless on our bale tags thanks to the John Deere bale management program.”
As lunch time approached, Tommy Moore walked by his pickup truck toward the warehouse where Win and Bradley were moving cotton bales. He knows soon enough the sounds of Oak Groves’ gin stands will be humming and the smell of cotton will signal the start of another harvest in west Tennessee, where Win and Bradley Moore will be hoping Mother Nature is kind to them once again.