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

Managing Cotton after Uneven Emergence

June 13, 2016

Mississippi State University specialists offer guidelines for managing cotton fields with uneven plant maturity.

Planting

USDA Projects 9.56 Million Cotton Acres in 2016

March 31, 2016

USDA’s March 31 Prospective Plantings report projects that U.S. cotton growers will plant 9.56 million acres in 2016 – an 11% increase over last year.

Planting

March Rainfall Could Mean More Cotton Acreage

March 29, 2016

More acres may be shifting back to cotton in 2016. For producers who may be planting cotton for the first time in several years, variety selection can be a formidable challenge.

Planting

Preplant Burndown Time in NC

March 8, 2016

Mid-March through early April is the ideal time for preplant burndown applications in North Carolina cotton fields.

Planting

Reference Guides Online for Proper Variety Placement

March 2, 2016

Charts to help provide guidance to growers on properly placing and managing cotton varieties are now available online from Mississippi State University.

Planting

Clemson: Focus on Insect Management, Proper Variety Selection

February 4, 2016

Clemson Extension specialists point to insect management and proper variety selection as keys to help SC cotton producers grow more profitable crops in 2016.

Planting

SC Cotton Growers Look to Rebound from 2015 Flood

January 28, 2016

After South Carolina’s cotton crop was essentially flooded out in 2015, what’s in store for the state’s growers this year?

Around The Gin
Product News

Cotton Board Releases 2015 Annual Report

September 27, 2016

The Cotton Board’s 2015 Annual Report is now available online.

Product News

It’s a Deal: Bayer to Acquire Monsanto

September 14, 2016

Bayer and Monsanto have announced an agreement under which Bayer will acquire Monsanto for approximately $66 billion in an all-cash transaction.

Product News

How Fiber Quality Became So Valuable

September 14, 2016

Textile expert Dean Etheridge explains the meteoric rise of fiber quality on the global market.

Product News

Cotton Cultivated Website Adds Custom Weather Feature

September 1, 2016

Cotton Cultivated – Cotton Incorporated's producer information website – now features a new weather tool tailored for cotton growers.

Product News

ChemChina/Syngenta Deal Gets U.S. Foreign Investment Approval

August 22, 2016

ChemChina and Syngenta have received a key clearance for the proposed consolidation of the companies.

Product News

Enlist Cotton Trait Earns Full Export Approval

August 10, 2016

Cotton varieties containing Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist trait now have full export approval in key countries.

Product News

Spray Equipment Offer Helps Maximize On-Target Applications

August 3, 2016

A new spray technology equipment offer can help growers participating in Roundup Ready PLUS Crop Management Solutions upgrade their sprayers to maximize on-target applications.

Product News

EPA Allows Sale and Use of Existing Belt Inventory

August 2, 2016

The U.S. EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board has upheld an earlier decision to cancel registration for Bayer's insecticide Belt, but is allowing sales of existing stocks to growers for use.

Latest News
Planting

Managing Cotton after Uneven Emergence

June 13, 2016

Mississippi State University specialists offer guidelines for managing cotton fields with uneven plant maturity.

Planting

Guidelines for Replanting Decisions

May 24, 2016

There are no definitive guidelines for making replant decisions. But a list of factors to consider may help make those decisions a bit easier.

Planting

Improved Soil Moisture for Most Texas Cotton Fields

May 4, 2016

Improved soil moisture in most cotton fields in Texas are pushing growth and maturity in early-planted acres and are setting up the state’s northern acres for good planting conditions.

Planting

USDA Projects 9.56 Million Cotton Acres in 2016

March 31, 2016

USDA’s March 31 Prospective Plantings report projects that U.S. cotton growers will plant 9.56 million acres in 2016 – an 11% increase over last year.

Planting

March Rainfall Could Mean More Cotton Acreage

March 29, 2016

More acres may be shifting back to cotton in 2016. For producers who may be planting cotton for the first time in several years, variety selection can be a formidable challenge.

Planting

Preplant Burndown Time in NC

March 8, 2016

Mid-March through early April is the ideal time for preplant burndown applications in North Carolina cotton fields.

Planting

Reference Guides Online for Proper Variety Placement

March 2, 2016

Charts to help provide guidance to growers on properly placing and managing cotton varieties are now available online from Mississippi State University.

Planting

Clemson: Focus on Insect Management, Proper Variety Selection

February 4, 2016

Clemson Extension specialists point to insect management and proper variety selection as keys to help SC cotton producers grow more profitable crops in 2016.

Planting

SC Cotton Growers Look to Rebound from 2015 Flood

January 28, 2016

After South Carolina’s cotton crop was essentially flooded out in 2015, what’s in store for the state’s growers this year?

Planting

Market Prices Impacting Early 2016 Crop Decisions

January 19, 2016

As farmers in the Rio Grande Valley try to finalize cropping decisions before planting begins in the coming weeks, many are still struggling with what to plant. For some, that will likely be cotton.

Planting

Mississippi Variety Trial Data and Planning Budgets Now Available

December 4, 2015

Mississippi State University Extension’s 2015 On-Farm Cotton Variety Trials publication and Cotton 2016 Planning Budgets guide are both now available online.

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.