What is in this article?:
- At 98, Elmo Snelling has no desire to retire from cotton farming
- Back to FiberMax
- Worked way through college
- Cotton still presents challenges
• Elmo Snelling has seen a lot in his 98 years.
• He has plowed with horses, flown an airplane and two years ago installed drip irrigation on his farm in Hale County, Texas.
• He’s still on the farm every day, but doesn’t work as many acres as he once did.
AT 98, Elmo Snelling remains active on his Hale County, Texas, farm. He’s preparing to put in his 67th crop. “I’ll plant cotton at least one more year,” he says.
Worked way through college
He worked his way through, getting up every day at 4:30 to work in a dairy plant in downtown Stillwater. “I could do that and still make my 8 o’clock class,” he says. “I also worked on Saturdays.”
He earned his degree in animal husbandry. “I’m about as far away as you can get from that degree,” he says.
“I don’t have cow one on the place. I did have a herd of about 90 at one time, but decided I would do better with just crops instead of crops and cattle.”
After graduation he worked for the Agricultural Adjustment Administration as a performance supervisor. He also worked with the Veterans Agriculture Program in Hollis, Okla.
He spent some time in the oil industry, too, doing everything from running pipes to cleaning out drill stems on the derricks.
He started farming in Hollis and says he got his start from a farmer he worked with through the AAA. “He let me have some acreage to make wheat. That good wheat crop got me started.” he says.
He farmed in Hollis, on his wife’s grandfather’s place, for a while and then noticed when visiting his sisters in Petersburg, Texas, “how fat the grain sorghum heads were. We pooled our resources and bought a place in Hale County. Dad came out too and bought a section near Plainview.”
For a short time he farmed in Hollis, Okla., and Hale County, Texas, flying back and forth to take care of the farm work and then getting back to Hollis for the Veterans Ag Program.”
His brother-in-law managed an airport and gave him access to planes as he needed them.
Snelling says he learned to fly around 1938, and stuck with it until he bought a boat and learned to water ski.
“We had a place down at Possum Kingdom, and we would go down and ski and then come back tired to the farm,” says.
He’s seen a lot of changes since he started farming on his own in 1946. The most important, he says, has been the improvements in cotton varieties, especially adding herbicide tolerance. “That change made it possible for farmers to add acreage and manage them effectively,” he says.
He was also instrumental in testing Treflan.
“I helped organize the weed management district in Hale County, and we got some Treflan for test plots. We experimented with it and found it to be a great, great help. The ingenuity of man has been amazing.”
He likes cotton, but says he’s always liked to diversify. “I raised mostly cotton and grain sorghum. I used to grow corn, too, but decided I was selling water too cheap. I haven’t grown any corn in about 15 years. I like corn.
“We got it in and out early. It’s a good crop to grow but it has to have a lot of water; it does not tolerate dryland like cotton or grain sorghum will. The short-season hybrids we have today would do better.”
He says Hale County is good cotton country. “Cotton is a good plant for this country, and I’ll stay with it for at least one more year.”