Farmer Turns to Cotton to Replace Frozen Wheat LossWed, 12 Jun 2013 12:39:10 CDT
Like a lot of other Oklahoma farmers whose wheat was lost due to freeze damage, Ted Thomason planted more cotton to replace the wheat.
Thomason thought this year's wheat crop would be a good one, but a series of late spring freezes caught his wheat in the head-forming stage.
"The freezes left me without any wheat to harvest," Thomason said. "My crop insurance helped some. Needing to plant something that would make money, I planted 300 more acres of cotton. In total, I will have about 650 acres of cotton this year."
Thomason said Zak Nulik, manager of the Farmers Cooperative at Putnam, has been applying herbicide to his fields planted in cotton. A dryland farmer, he is appreciative of any rainfall coming his way in a time of drought.
"The day after I finished planting cotton, we received .3 of an inch of rain," he said. "We really needed it. Hopefully, we will get more rain throughout the growing season."
Most years, Thomason said he usually plants 700 to 1,000 acres of cotton each spring.
"Cotton farming isn't an exact science. But it is a crop that has let me buy a farm and pay my bills in years when wheat prices are low," he said. "I rotate dryland cotton with wheat. I've found planting Roundup Ready cotton with wheat has helped me control weeds in my wheat. We don't have to spend any extra money on fertilizer and both crops seem to benefit from better disease control."
Cotton, along with wheat and a herd of commercial beef cows, have helped Thomason acquire 1,200 acres of paid-for farmland, he said. Seventy-six years old, Thomason runs in marathon races. To stay in condition, he runs from his pickup truck to where his tractor is parked, he said. "Yesterday, I ran eight miles to get my tractor," he said.
Thomason began farming fulltime 22 years ago, he said."My first career was teaching math in school. I have always wanted to farm. I decided I had better start if I was going to do it. I can say now I am a actively, totally, physically first generation farmer."
Other farmers like Thomason are selecting cotton for a money crop to grow following wheat freezing problems.
Farmers should remember June 20, 2013, is the final date to plant cotton protected crop insurance.
By Vic Schoonover, Producers Cooperative Oil Mill
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