Keeping Cotton in the Family

As many farm families already know, these aren’t the easiest of times to add a second generation to an operation. Between higher premiums on acreage, reduced credit lending and higher input costs, the timeless tradition of sons joining their fathers in the family business is quickly becoming a harder row to hoe.

But the Gathright family of Monette, AR, is proving that the transition can succeed in the 21st century, as long as those involved are willing to keep their options open when it comes to more progressive farming techniques.

Dennis, who has farmed on his own since 1973, recently brought his son Justin into the family business, and the two have formed a relationship that many families are finding beneficial.

“Dad relies on me to keep up with the technology. We make the big decisions together,” says Justin. “I guess he’s what you would call old school. I’m new school. I’ll make a suggestion and he’ll say, ‘well that’s not how we did it last year, or five years ago.’ Sometimes I have to talk him into the fact that the way we do things now is going to be a little different.”

The Gathwright’s farm is comprised of 3,400 acres in the Arkansas Delta, and they devote 100% of that land to growing cotton. Justin says the family is sticking with cotton, even through the tough times. The main reasoning behind that line of thought, Justin says, is that the family’s entire infrastructure is in the crop, and they feel it is still a viable option. With that in mind, the family is more than willing to invest in the cutting edge of farming techniques.

Straight Down the Row

“We use the John Deere RTK guidance systems, the sub-one-inch accuracy. There’s so much stuff you can do with it. We use it for putting our rows up. One of the advantages of using that system is the straighter rows. It helps with our early irrigation, and it really helps with driver fatigue. You can get more done in a day’s time because it really drives itself,” says Justin.

On the advice of their consultant, the Gathrights also take soil samples after every crop, making the next year’s fertilizer decisions based off of those samples. It was this type of willingness to experiment in their techniques that made the Gathrights a prime candidate for participation in the Bayer CropScience Cotton Agronomic Performance (CAP) Trials.

“My reaction (when approached by Bayer about the CAP trials) was that I was very interested, because it not only benefits me but everyone in this area to see what the varieties we will be planting in the future will do in our area,” Justin says. He noted that the Stoneville varieties have already paid dividends on his operation, as some early season stress revealed great vigor in the Stoneville varieties.

“We planted about 2700 acres of ST 4554B2RF, 400 acres of ST 4498B2RF, and 200 acres of ST 5458B2RF. The Stoneville varieties come out of the ground growing and they have proven themselves to us year after year,” Gathright says. “The grades are really good and the turnouts have been really good, too.”

While the current market is keeping the Gathrights’ operation, 2G Farms, Inc., from experimenting as much as they might like to, Justin says the family has no plans to switch to alternate crops in the coming year. With any luck, the Gathrights’ willingness to experiment with new techniques will continue to pay off as the market looks to rebound in the years ahead.

Leave a Reply

Planting Stories
Planting

NC State: PGR Management Considerations

June 17, 2015

Side-dressing could help spur vigorous cotton growth, especially with timely rain. According to the NC State Extension cotton team, it’s time to start PGR management plans.

Planting

El Nino Weather Good for High Plains Cotton

May 12, 2015

The Texas High Plains are benefitting from the current El Nino weather pattern. And that’s good news for this year’s cotton crop.

Planting

Don’t Let Early Season Thrips and Weed Management Impact Seedling Vigor

April 17, 2015

Increased challenges in early season thrips and weed management can potentially impact the value of vigorous cotton seedling growth.

Planting

Late Cotton Burndown Strategies

April 15, 2015

With cotton planting set to begin soon, many growers are looking for burndown options for their cotton acres.

Planting

Cotton Variety Test Comparisons Now Available Online

April 8, 2015

Cotton Incorporated and Extension cotton specialists have partnered with SeedMatrix to make cotton variety yield test comparisons easily accessible to producers via computer, smartphone or tablet.

Planting

Enlist Joins the Flag the Technology Program

April 7, 2015

Dow AgroSciences plants its flag to help avoid mis-applications among herbicide technologies.

Planting

Soil Testing Still the Cornerstone for Fertilization Programs

March 30, 2015

In times of lower commodity prices and stable-to-higher input costs, the right fertilization program should still begin with soil testing.

Around The Gin
Product News

Ratting Out Copper Theft

June 10, 2015

A simple alarm technology is helping to stop copper thieves who target irrigation systems.

Product News

EPA Approves New Premix for 2016 for Cotton, Soybean Weed Control

May 29, 2015

Cotton and soybean growers will have a new weed control option in 2016 with Warrant Ultra Herbicide, a premix of acetochlor and fomesafen.

Product News

Deltapine NPE Program Begins Eighth Year of On-Farm Variety Evaluation

April 28, 2015

Nearly 200 farmers will be part of the Deltapine New Product Evaluator program this year to help evaluate cotton variety candidates for the Deltapine Class of 16.

Product News

EPA Approves Enlist Duo Herbicide for Use in Additional States

April 2, 2015

The EPA has approved Enlist Duo herbicide for use in nine additional states, including four in the Cotton Belt.

Product News

New 2015 CROPLAN Cotton Varieties Feature Bollgard II XtendFlex Technology

March 19, 2015

WinField is adding Monsanto’s new Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton trait to two new CROPLAN cotton varieties for 2015.

Precision Technology

New Features for TeeJet Aeros 9040 Field Computer

March 18, 2015

TeeJet has added new features to its Aeros 9040 Field Computer for 2015.

Precision Technology

TeeJet Launches New DynaJet Flex Nozzle Control System

March 17, 2015

The new DynaJet Flex 7120 nozzle control system from TeeJet Technologies helps growers manage spray quality across a variety of operating speeds and application rates.

Product News

New Cheminova Chemistry to Help Control Herbicide Resistant Weeds

February 23, 2015

Cheminova plans to register pethoxamid, a new herbicide active ingredient, to help growers manage herbicide-resistant weeds.

Latest News
Planting

NC State: PGR Management Considerations

June 17, 2015

Side-dressing could help spur vigorous cotton growth, especially with timely rain. According to the NC State Extension cotton team, it’s time to start PGR management plans.

Planting

El Nino Weather Good for High Plains Cotton

May 12, 2015

The Texas High Plains are benefitting from the current El Nino weather pattern. And that’s good news for this year’s cotton crop.

Disease Control / Nematodes

New Cotton Webcasts Focus on Seedling Diseases and Soil Fertility

April 29, 2015

Two new webcasts focusing on seedling diseases and soil fertility have been added to the Focus on Cotton online webcast resource.

Planting

Don’t Let Early Season Thrips and Weed Management Impact Seedling Vigor

April 17, 2015

Increased challenges in early season thrips and weed management can potentially impact the value of vigorous cotton seedling growth.

Planting

Late Cotton Burndown Strategies

April 15, 2015

With cotton planting set to begin soon, many growers are looking for burndown options for their cotton acres.

Planting

Choose Proper Seeding Rate for Optimum Plant Populations

April 15, 2015

With cotton planting ready to begin, it’s important for growers to keep the difference between seeding rates and plant populations in mind.

Planting

Cotton Variety Test Comparisons Now Available Online

April 8, 2015

Cotton Incorporated and Extension cotton specialists have partnered with SeedMatrix to make cotton variety yield test comparisons easily accessible to producers via computer, smartphone or tablet.

Planting

Enlist Joins the Flag the Technology Program

April 7, 2015

Dow AgroSciences plants its flag to help avoid mis-applications among herbicide technologies.

Planting

Soil Testing Still the Cornerstone for Fertilization Programs

March 30, 2015

In times of lower commodity prices and stable-to-higher input costs, the right fertilization program should still begin with soil testing.

Planting

Choose the Right Mix for Spring Burndown

March 19, 2015

Judging by the phone calls he’s receiving, Tom Barber, University of Arkansas Extension weed scientist, says that burndown applications are at the top of growers’ priority lists.

Planting

Georgia Cotton Enterprise Budgets for 2015 Available Online

March 13, 2015

The University of Georgia has posted its 2015 Cotton Enterprise Budgets online to provide guides to cotton growers for planning and decision making.

Cotton Production

Cotton Grower Acreage Survey: Growers Dialing Back Acres in 2015

January 5, 2015

The 2015 Cotton Grower Acreage Survey suggests cotton farmers could reduce cotton plantings by more than 10 percent this year.

Planting

2015 Tennessee Cotton Variety Guide Available Online

December 16, 2014

The 2015 Tennessee Cotton Variety Guide is now available online.

Planting

2014 Mississippi Small Plot Trial Data Now Available

December 15, 2014

Data from the 2014 Mississippi Small Plot Cotton Official Variety Trial is now available through Mississippi State University.

Planting

AgriLife Extension’s On-Farm Cotton Variety Trial Data Available

November 26, 2014

The annual Replicated Agronomic Cotton Evaluation trial results for the South, East and Central Regions of Texas are now available from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.