The boll weevil drove Jim Landers out of cotton back in 1995. Inconsistent soybean yields brought cotton back into his diversified operation three years ago.

“I got tired of watching soybeans burn up,” Landers said in late June. He still grows some soybeans as part of a diversified farm operation in Delta County, Texas, where rainfall was adequate through spring planting time. 

“Soil moisture was good all the way through the profile,” he said. “Cotton looks pretty good. Some fields that were planted earlier than mine are a little ahead, but I can’t complain.”

He double-crops some soybeans behind wheat, but he likes the diversification he gets with cotton added to a beans, wheat, milo and corn rotation.

He’s hoping for continued good rainfall on his summer crops and says so far soybeans, milo and cotton are doing well. He didn’t get corn planted this year because of wet conditions at planting time. But the moisture was appreciated. “Mother nature has been good to us so far,” he said.

Cotton was off to a good start. He said he got control of thrips early and was working on flea hoppers.

Landers is one of only a handful of Northeast Texas farmers still growing cotton. “I grew up with cotton but had not grown any since 1995. That was a tough year. We were spraying for boll weevils every few days.”

Without boll weevil pressure, plus new genetics that make weed and insect control a bit easier, cotton fits well in his rotation program.

He concedes that weed control may be a bit more complex than was the case when he relied on a cultivator and a hoe, but herbicide tolerance has reduced labor. He planted Phytogen 499 and 375 this year. “This is the first year with 499,” he said. “I planted 375 last year.”

He says Phytogen 375 “blew out of the ground and did well last year,” considering the drought. A good price helped out, he said.

He expects 499 to offer a slightly longer maturity. “I’ll probably need to apply a plant growth regulator one or two times, depending on moisture. I’ll be checking it every week.”

He’s using both Roundup Ready and Widestrike technology along with Bollgard II. “I also have Avicta (seed treatment) on it,” Landers said.

He considered reducing plant population a tad. “I probably should have cut back but I tried to get two to three plants per foot of row on 30-inch centers. That should strip better.”

He delayed planting a few days in early May to finish cutting hay. “I finished planting on May 10.”