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• Shawn Holladay’s adherence to proven conservation and production systems, even under extreme conditions, was among the factors that resulted in his selection as the Farm Press/Cotton Foundation High Cotton Award winner for the Southwest region.
DAWSON COUNTY, Texas, cotton farmer Shawn Holladay is the High Cotton winner for the Southwest region.
Hard to judge varieties
A drought year is a “tough time to evaluate variety performance,” he says. “The weather last year was so severe it was hard to judge performance. It’s also not a good idea, during a historical drought, to make any management decisions based on performance. I won’t make any changes based on what happened in 2011.”
Holladay says he’s committed to transgenic varieties — “I don’t plant an acre of cotton that’s not stacked gene.” And he considers global positioning system technology “one of the best pieces of technology” he’s seen.
The combination of transgenic cotton and the boll weevil eradication program has revolutionized cotton production, he says.
“I made no pesticide applications in 2011. We have a good story to tell from an environmental standpoint. The changes we’ve seen over the past 20 years are almost unbelievable.
“The boll weevil eradication program is an extraordinary accomplishment, and problems with secondary pests have been solved with transgenics.”
Other challenges pose serious threats, however. Glyphosate resistant pigweeds were recently identified near where Holladay farms.
“We have new chemistry coming that I hope will help us to stave off the bad resistance problems they’ve had in other parts of the country. We hope to learn from others what has worked and what didn’t.”
Part of the resistance prevention strategy, he says, will include going back to traditional herbicide programs, including pre-emergence materials.
“We never left it,” he says. “Now, with resistant pigweed identified in the area, we don’t rule out anything — steel, different chemistries, whatever it takes. We’re not reluctant to do what we need to do.”
Resistance management is another reason he doesn’t stay with no-till production all the time. “We want to be able to plow the ground occasionally,” he says.
Selecting the appropriate chemical and applying it at the proper rate and at the proper time also improves control. “Best rate, applied at the best time, reduces escapes,” Holladay says. “And using a pre-emergence just adds another layer of protection.”
He hopes area farmers can delay resistance until new chemistry is available to combat the tough weeds.
Politics also poses challenges for farmers, he says.