It’s a no-brainer. Putting cotton in rotation with a grain or grass crop will pay dividends the next time a farmer harvests a lint crop.

The grit in the grease in West Texas has been finding a crop that provides at least an opportunity to make a profit most years.

“We can’t do it with grain crops,” says Ron Alexander, Levelland, Texas, farmer and farm supply dealer.

“But we can make money with peanuts in rotation with cotton,” he says.

Alexander has grown peanuts for six years. “We’re just now beginning to understand peanuts and are doing a better job of weed control, fertility and variety selection,” he says.

“Our main advantage is still with disease control. We only sprayed the 2005 crop one time with Stratego and that was mainly a preventive application to head off leaf spot. We don’t need to spray a fungicide very often.”

Alexander targets yields at 2-to 2-and-a-half tons per acre. “And I get a half bale more cotton from fields that have been in peanuts the previous season,” he says. “That’s a bonus.”

A good variety has helped maintain yields and profit potential. “We (He farms with his father-in-law, Jim Davis.) plant only runner-type peanuts, GP-1, a Golden Peanut variety. This area has tended toward Spanish peanuts the last few years, but we can make substantially better yields with runners.”

He says the threat of disease pressure demands attention. “We have some irrigated fields we’ve flip-flopped (peanuts, cotton and back to peanuts) and we need to quit doing that. I think we’re beginning to see signs of disease buildup, and with cool, wet years we could run into serious problems.”

A longer interval out of peanuts, three years, should help reduce disease incidence, he says.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com