Cotton has had its ups and downs in the last few years. But that hasn’t stopped the winners of this year’s Cotton Foundation/Farm Press High Cotton awards from trying to produce the best and most environmentally-friendly crops they can.

The 2013 winners — Linwood Vick, Wilson, N.C.; Johnny Little, Holcomb, Miss.; John Wilde, San Angelo, Texas; and Chad Crivelli, Dos Palos, Calif. — have continued the High Cotton Award traditions of growing good, profitable cotton in an environmentally friendly manner.

And they’ve done it despite a less than favorable price outlook, excessive moisture in some areas and drought conditions in others and rising input costs. For their efforts, they and their families will be honored at the National Cotton Council’s Beltwide Cotton Conferences in San Antonio, Jan. 7-10.

“The 2013 High Cotton Award winners are some of the most efficient cotton producers in the nation,” said Greg Frey, vice-president at Penton Media and publisher of the Southeast, Delta, Southwest and Western Farm Presses. “But they also do their utmost to protect the land, air and water. They represent the very best in environmental stewardship.”

Each of the 2013 winners and their spouses receive an expense-paid trip to the Beltwide Cotton Conferences. They will be joined by family members and friends at a breakfast honoring them and their achievements on Jan. 9.

The High Cotton Awards are presented annually by Farm Press Publications through a grant to The Cotton Foundation. Cosponsors of the 2013 awards are All-Tex Seed, Americot/NexGen, AMVAC, Arysta LifeScience, Deltapine, Dow AgroSciences, Helena Chemical Company, John Deere, MANA Crop Protection, Syngenta and U.S. Borax.

Southeast winner

Ironically, growing cotton was one of Linwood Vick’s least favorite things when this year’s Southeast winner returned to the family farm after graduating from the North Carolina State Agriculture Institute in 1997.

“We had a big problem with soil erosion,” Lyn says. “Early in the growing season especially, our conventional cotton was literally sandblasted by our fine, sandy soils. When Roundup Ready cotton came along, we switched to no-till cotton, soybeans, double-crop soybeans, and wheat.

“Our tobacco and sweet potatoes are grown with conventional-tillage, so going no-till on cotton and soybeans helped improve the tilth of our soil and helped with those erosion problems.”

He rotates his cotton with sweet potatoes, tobacco and soybeans. Having sweet potatoes and tobacco in the rotation is a bit unusual, but he says it has been a blessing in battling glyphosate-resistant pigweed. 

The unusual cotton rotation also aids in suppression of nematodes. Most of their tobacco and sweet potato land is treated with Telone and Lorsban, so they are carrying out practices as a part of their normal farming operation that gives a side benefit of reducing nematode populations.