What is in this article?:
- Holladay worked for his father when he was a kid and represents the fourth generation to farm in the Lamesa area, but says 2011 was the most challenging year he’s experienced in 20 years of farming on his own.
- He’s hoping for better results in 2012, although long-range predictions indicate a strong chance of drought persisting into next spring.
DAWSON COUNTY, Texas, cotton farmer Shawn Holladay is the High Cotton winner for the Southwest region.
He likes to rotate with wheat or plant wheat as a winter cover, terminate it in the spring, and plant cotton in the residue. He also plants cotton into old cotton stalks.
“I want a system that provides organic matter, but doesn’t use a lot of water. Managing a cover crop has become more difficult because of our rainfall issues — the need to grow a cover crop and the need to conserve water are beginning to butt heads.”
It’s a dilemma, he says.
“I want to keep a cover crop to prevent wind from blowing the soil away. I may have to lean more on cotton stalk residue, but I prefer to plant in wheat litter. A true rotation is the best bet, but this isn’t proper wheat country. We’re trying some on our lighter water areas, then planting cotton in year-old stubble.”
He’s also tried planting a wheat cover, destroying it and planting in the residue.
“I have to look at cash flow,” he says. “Lately that’s not been a big issue with wheat prices up, but historical yields for wheat in this area may mean it’s not a good option. So, we have to look at cover crops and evaluate the potential. We have to know where our water is going and what we’re getting out of it.”