Folks leaving the recent Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio might have gone away with a touch of the blahs. You remember the blahs, a faux malady concocted by drug companies back in the ‘60s as a means of enticing otherwise healthy folk to feel like they needed a pill of some sort. Symptoms included a general feeling of malaise, the way I typically feel when a nice fish gets off the line or when I flub up an interview and misquote a source.
And sometimes you just feel a little off, but can’t quite put your finger on what’s troubling you. That’s the blahs. But I don’t know of a drug that will make you feel better — without a doctor’s prescription. Good news helps, though. And if Beltwide participants listened closely enough they might have heard just enough positive information to chase away the blahs.
We heard a lot about a potential significant acreage reduction across the Cotton Belt, but West Texas cotton growers I talked to indicated they’d hold the line. Some said they’d take a few acres back from other crops they planted last year. Most agree, however, that keeping a bit of grain or a seed crop on the land is a valid rotation scheme and good for the soil.
A report from the Cotton Board and Cotton Incorporated on sustainability of cotton farming indicated that farmers are already doing much of what’s needed to produce a product with a relatively small carbon footprint.
Many across the Belt, for instance, have adopted some sort of conservation tillage system. They’re using more efficient irrigation systems. They rotate with several crops and are using fertilizer and energy efficiently. Most also respect the need to protect wildlife and are taking steps to preserve habitats for fish, birds and mammals.
Folks who sat through a few of the economic outlook sessions might have missed the positive predictions if they nodded off for even a few seconds, but intermingled among the prognostications for more layoffs, fewer housing starts and low prices were nuggets of optimism about a light at the end of this dark economic tunnel. Some anticipate a receding of the recession by the end of the year.
Production costs should ease some with lower energy prices.
A Cotton Foundation project, Vision 21, has been launched to study some of the industry’s most prickly issues, including impediments to cotton flow, sustainability and understanding the industry’s largest market, Asia.
Cotton folk also heard from production experts about new methods to manage old problems: weeds, insects and diseases. They saw some new equipment, heard about new varieties and crop protection materials that should help them make an efficient crop.
And, to toot our own horn a bit, Farm Press Publications honored our latest High Cotton Award winners and discovered that innovative farmers continue to find ways to beat the odds and to produce good yields of top quality cotton while protecting their soil, water, air and their neighbors.
Every year, we wonder if we’ll find another class of High Cotton winners to match the last. We always do. They keep setting the bar higher and keep striving to make profitable yields and to leave their land in better shape than they found it.
It would be hard to find a case of the blahs among this group.