The first thing that comes to mind when hearing the word Hereford, Texas, is, of course, cattle. Named for the Hereford cattle breed brought here in 1898, this Panhandle community is known as the beef capital of the world. So, what brings a PhytoGen Driven to Thrive Yieldmobile here?
Fed by two underground aquifers, the agricultural landscape in Deaf Smith County has always been an abundant producer of crops, including corn, grain sorghum (milo), wheat, alfalfa and cotton. But the proportion of each is changing, with cotton acres trending upward during the past decade. Steven Birkenfeld, general manager of Top of Texas Gin, explains the shift.
“Until recently, corn has been the leader by far,” Birkenfeld says. “The increase in cotton is tied directly to irrigation, as aquifer levels are slowly depleting, and irrigation capability is declining significantly. We’re no longer the corn and milo country that we used to be. Farmers turned to the more water-efficient option … which is cotton.”
Top of Texas, one of six gins operated by Windstar Inc., was built in 2001 to serve a handful of farmers who at that time recognized the increasing irrigation and water availability challenges and started converting more of their corn acres to cotton. The number of bales ginned has grown exponentially each year as cotton acres steadily increase.
“In addition to irrigation challenges and commodity corn prices, this area had a major problem with sugarcane aphid, which devastated many sorghum fields, so cotton acres really took off,” Birkenfeld says. “As cotton acres increase, genetics are also getting better. Cottonseed companies like PhytoGen play a significant role in the increase by offering varieties bred to respond well to our short growing season and weather extremes.
“We’re really just on the edge of having enough time to grow cotton, and, more years than not, we’re not growing mature cotton; we still have issues with immaturity. Companies like PhytoGen are giving us faster maturing varieties, with good yield potential and high-quality fiber. It’s making it more of a possibility that we’re consistently growing quality fiber.”
Taking the Driven to Thrive Yieldmobile promotion to regions like Hereford, previously known more for cattle than cotton, demonstrates the opportunity and commitment of PhytoGen to support cotton-growing regions with varieties to help them succeed. That includes understanding different regions, their challenges, weather conditions and water utilization.
“Since we are on the shortest stint of a growing season, the first thing guys are looking for is earliness,” Birkenfeld says. “The obvious goal is to produce quality fiber. In order to do that around here, early and strong plant emergence is crucial. Another thing growers look for is vigor. We’ve seen some great results with PhytoGen® brand 250 in that regard. It’s been one of our best varieties from a vigor standpoint, getting out of the ground and getting going.”
Birkenfeld, along with Top of Texas Gin employees, is embracing the Driven to Thrive promotion with enthusiasm.
“We’re very appreciative of the Yieldmobile promotion and sponsorship, and our partnership with PhytoGen,” Birkenfeld says. “We see great potential, and the recognition is good for us and the growers in the area.”
To learn more about PhytoGen, go to PhytoGenCottonseed.com.
® The PhytoGen Logo is a trademark of PhytoGen Seed Company, LLC. PhytoGen Seed Company is a joint venture between Mycogen Corporation, an affiliate of Dow AgroSciences LLC, and the J.G. Boswell Company.