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Danny Darnell, who farms in north Alabama's Tennessee Valley, has been named the Southeast High Cotton Award winner for 2013. Darnell farms with his sons, Jared and Heath.
DANNY DARNELL’S LOVE of farming has resulted in a successful family operation in northwest Alabama’s Tennessee Valley and being named the Southeast High Cotton Award winner.
Mama decides marketing strategy
As for marketing their cotton crop, Jared is quick with an answer: “Whatever Mama tells us — that’s our marketing strategy.”
Danny concurs. “Pat is our marketing agent. We’ve got a direct mill contract through Servico Gin, and then we go through various other merchants with the Hillsboro Gin, so we market our own cotton. Pat monitors the markets, and we discuss it back and forth.”
Their marketing strategy can best be described as conservative, says Heath. “We try to hit the rallies and sell a little, leaving ourselves room if the market rallies some more. Mainly, we try to keep our bases covered — hitting singles instead of home runs.”
Winter wheat acreage varies each year. They had about 2,000 acres in 2012 and expect to have 1,500 acres this year, trying to keep it at one-third of their total acreage.
“Wheat and cotton don’t really mix,” says Jared. “When you’re harvesting wheat, you need to be working on cotton. But wheat and beans have been hard to beat here in recent years. Our consultant scouts the wheat as much as he used to scout cotton; wheat is very important in the overall operation.”
Any successful crop depends largely on hard work and timeliness, he says. “That is especially true when you’re handling four crops. If we get a scouting report, we spray right then — we don’t wait three or four days.”