Even though William Carlton, Jr., (Junior to his friends) wasn’t raised on a farm, something about the challenges and opportunities of making a living from the soil always appealed to him.

For years he worked on the sidelines with a farm supply dealer in the Texas Southern Plains. He farmed part-time. When the company was bought out he stayed on for a year or two and then decided full-time farmer was his next logical step.

He’s now raising cotton near Slaton with acreage scattered out as far away as Idalou and into Lynn County.

He got to know farmers through the farm supply business. “I worked around farmers all my life,” he says, “and was encouraged by what I saw. I enjoyed being associated with farmers.”

The timing was right. When he got into farming technology was already firmly in place. “I wanted to see what I could do with technology on my own.”

He’s been taking advantage of those innovations full-time for the last eight years. The last two will be memorable. In 2011, even his irrigated cotton didn’t get enough water to make a decent yield. He says the price was good enough to keep him going.

“In 2011, we got the irrigated cotton up but it didn’t do much,” he says. “Yield was not good, but the price was. We had no planting rain.” Dryland cotton never even germinated.

He’ll remember 2012 more fondly. “Last year, I made the most cotton I’ve ever pulled on irrigated acreage,” Carlton says.

That includes one 40-acre field that averaged five bales—2,575 pounds—per acre. That was on drip-irrigation and with a new variety, NexGen 1511 B2RF. Cotton under his pivots did well, too, averaging as much as 1,545 pounds per acre. Some irrigated fields with “light water,” made two-and-half bales per acre. “I was pleased with that,” Carlton says.