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Steven Beakley strives to produce the best cotton feasible while conserving as much soil and moisture as possible on the Ellis County farm he works with his father, Bob. That commitment was instrumental in earning him the 2014 Farm Press/Cotton Foundation High Cotton Award for the Southwest Region.
ELLIS COUNTY, Texas, farmer Steven Beakley is the 2014 High cotton Award winner for the Southwest Region.
We need research into affordable, efficient weed control methods. “I foresee this being a really big problem. We need affordable weed control — a $60 to $70 per acre weed control application isn’t feasible.” A weed control program as successful as boll weevil eradication would be ideal, he says.
Boll weevil eradication has made a significant impact on cotton production in the northern Blacklands, Beakley says. He’s been the zone representative since the program began about eight years ago.
“It didn’t take long to eradicate the boll weevil, and I can’t put a value on what that has meant to cotton. Within two years of implementation, the boll weevil was no longer an economic issue. Some folks say they get from 100 pounds to 300 more pounds of cotton per acre because the boll weevil is gone.
“Without eradication, I don’t know how much cotton would be left in this part of Texas.”
Beakley and his father farm together. “We have his, mine, and ours — and farm everything together.”
He also has a grain elevator business. “We’ve always had on-farm storage,” he says, but he added more when he got interested in sunflowers and saw that other growers in the area needed a facility to handle the crop. He had about 480,000 bushels of capacity, and recently bought another facility that had closed, which brought overall storage up to about 1 million bushels.