Dr. Randy Boman, Oklahoma State University Extension cotton program director, has a new tool to use in helping Oklahoma cotton farmers grow the best cotton they can.

It is a Lee weigh wagon, a cotton boll buggy fitted with integral digital scales that will enable OSU Extension cotton specialists to work directly with producers with their equipment to conduct replicated large plot trials.

"This can simplify such things as planting and harvesting operations, as most of our small plot equipment is set for 40-inch rows," Boman said. "Farmers use different row widths to adjust to different types of crops grown in the same field. For instance, the Halsted brothers plant their cotton on a 36-inch row."

The weigh wagon was bought using grant funds from the Oklahoma Cotton Council with additional support from the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and the Oklahoma Agricultural Experiment Station.

"We want to thank all involved in helping the OSU Extension Center acquire this important tool to complement our existing equipment. It will be extensively used in the future," Boman said.

He explained that this is the first weigh wagon to be used by OSU Extension cotton specialists. Boman used several of the wagons while working for the Texas A&M Extension Service on the Texas High Plains.

Boman and Shane Osborne, OSU Extension associate, took the weigh wagon on the road this week. They traveled to Carnegie and Hydro, Okla., to work with farmers harvesting cotton.

"Only a few places in Oklahoma have any cotton to harvest this year due to the severe drought," Boman said. "One of those is in Caddo County near Carnegie."

Using the weigh wagon, harvested cotton was transferred from the farmer's boll buggy to be weighed. After weighing, the cotton was then transferred to a module builder to be pressed into a large module on the field turn row. When it is time to gin the module, a module truck from the Carnegie Farmers Co-op gin will haul it in to be processed.

Jay and Clint Halsted, Mountain View, Okla., were the hosts for the weigh wagon activities. Representing a few of the lucky cotton farmers who are harvesting a good cotton crop this year, they are harvesting 900 acres of irrigated cotton. Most of their cotton is watered with pivot systems.

Third-generation farmers, the Halsteds also farm winter wheat, corn, soybeans and alfalfa.

"Young farmers like the Halsted brothers are the hope of the future for agriculture,” said Harvey Schroeder, Oklahoma Cotton Council executive director. "Anymore, it is extremely difficult for younger generations to get into farming. We need all of the young farmers we can get."