Their cotton is scouted three times a week, which is a bit unusual, Coley, Jr., says, but if closer checking of the crop eliminates one or two sprays a season, it’s worth it. “Plus, I like to know what’s going on — I want to know if what we’re spraying is working.”

Joe Worthy, of Clarksdale, Miss., does aerial application work for the Baileys, and their consultant, Ty Edwards, is also gin manager at Yalobusha Gin, where they gin their cotton. They market their crop through Staplcotn.

During the season, they get valuable advice and service from Extension Agents Steve Winters in Grenada County, and Brent Gray in Yalobusha County, Bill Bailey from Crop Production Services in Grenada and their local John Deere dealer, Wade Equipment in Grenada.

Winters, Extension director for Grenada County, has known the Baileys through 22 cotton growing seasons. “They have a cutting edge type of operation,” he says. “If a new technology comes along and they think it might cut costs or increase yields, they’re going to give it a try.”

All of the Baileys’ full-time work crew push hard to keep the pickers turning, too. Billy Earl Jennings, 62, started working for the Baileys in 1976; James Marion, 67, and Darold Marion, 40, in 1995; and Gwenn Topps, 47, this season.

“They take the lead on getting equipment ready,” Coley, Jr., says. “They’ve been with us for a long time, and I can depend on them. When we had to plant our crop in six days last spring, they were here at 5:30 a.m., filling up machinery with diesel and seed so we could start running at 6 a.m. We ran until dark.”

The Baileys take care of their workers, too. Each module builder is equipped with a closed, air-conditioned cab.

“We don’t work on Sundays,” Coley, Jr., says. “But, we’re always able to get it all done. When you work 15 hours a day during the week, you need to have some rest on Sunday.”

In the coming season, the Baileys will replace their three 6-row basket pickers with two 6-row module pickers, which should reduce seasonal labor needs and make harvest move even faster.

“I think we can pick cotton with a basket picker as efficiently as anybody I know,” Coley, Jr., says. “In good cotton, we can tarp a module every 20 minutes, and build 24 modules a day.”

He uses module size to regulate the influence of yield fluctuation on picking efficiency. As yields increase, the size of a finished module may decrease to accommodate the increased number of boll buggy dumps.