Tuesday, August 20, 2013

You Might Be A Cotton Farmer If...

Every industry has it's own "Language."  Cotton farming is no exception.  Many of the terms and sayings around the cotton industry go back several generations, and while we don't Tromp cotton with our feet any more, the module builder does a might fine job of Trompin' cotton these days.  So taking a lead from Jeff Foxworthy and his Redneck gig, You Might Be A Cotton Farmer If... (PS There is a dictionary at the end!)

You've ever cursed a Boll Weevil 
You've ever visited with a neighbor on the Turn Row 
You've ever blew a hose on your 8400 
You've ever responded to "How's your day going" with "Oh, Fair To Middling"
You've ever spent all day Sand Fightin' 
You've ever been happy to see your Cotton Rowin' 
You've ever decided to plant 2 and 1 instead of Solid 
You've ever heard that Ol' Stanley's pump is Suckin' Air 
You've ever been concerned that the Table's Droppin' 
You've ever used a Quart of Topguard to fight your Root Rot 
You've ever had a buddy already Sprayin' For Worms because he didn't plant Bt 
You've ever Worried About the Wind because your neighbor didn't plant Round Up Ready 
You've ever chopped cotton with a crew of Hoe Hands 
You've ever been excited about a good Burn Down 
You've ever had to Cultivate because you are having trouble with Volunteer
You've ever been Strippin' 
You've ever ended up with too many Barks

Some of these are self explanorty, but I'll translate them anyway:

Tromp or Trompin': To compact the cotton for transport.  People used to get inside the cotton trailers and compact the cotton with their feet in order to get more cotton in each trailer.  Now the Module Builder has a hydraulic press that compacts the cotton into large blocks that are transported by Module Trucks to the gin.

Boll Weevil:  A vile little creature that causes so much damage to a cotton crop that many regions of the United States stopped growing cotton all together.

Turn Row:  Small dirt roads that lie around the perimeter of a field and allow room for farm machinery to turn at the end of the rows.

8400:  There are hundreds of model numbers for tractors.  This particular number happens to be a John Deere 8400 Front Wheel Drive Tractor.

Fair to Middling:  Refers to the USDA classing system used on cotton and Fair to Middling is about in the middle of the scale.  There are colors, strengths, lengths and other factors that lead to the final grade of a bale of cotton.  That grade determines the final price a farmer gets for his cotton.

Sand Fightin':  When a hard rain falls on farms that are mostly sandy soil, the surface quickly dries off and becomes smooth.  If the wind starts blowing, the smooth surface will begin to blow sand.  Blowing sand can burn the leaves off of a cotton plant in a matter of a few minutes.  Sand Fighters are very wide implements that have small rolling blades which dig into the soil and break up the smooth surface and prevent the sand from blowing.  They can be pulled very fast to cover a lot of acres in a short amount of time.

Cotton Rowin':  This is when the cotton first pops up out of the ground after planting.  The first day you can drive up and see a green streak down the row, your "Cotton's Rowin'."

2 and 1, Solid:  In this area of the United States, many farmers plant their cotton in Skip Row Patterns.  This leaves blank rows in between rows of cotton to give the plants more room for rain fall.  2 and 1 means that there are two rows of cotton with one blank row in between the next set of two rows.  Solid means there are no blank rows.  Row spacing comes into play here also.  Some cotton is on 40" wide rows, others may only be 30" row spacing.  This is all a personal preference by the farmer.

Suckin' Air:  The irrigation pump in the water well is pumping less water and some air because the water level in the well is dropping.

Table's Droppin':  The underground water table tends to rise and fall with the weather and also during the growing season when lots of irrigation systems are in use, leading to pumps "sucking air."

 Quart of Topguard:  The fungicide that was approved in 2012 for the treatment of Cotton Root Rot.  It is applied to the soil at the time of planting in quantities of one pint to one quart per acre.

Root Rot:  Several of my previous posts have dealt with the fungus we call Cotton Root Rot.  It lives in the soil and kills the cotton plants.

 Sprayin' for Worms:  Without the genetic trait for the resistance to the boll worm, a farmer must spray insecticide on his cotton many times throughout the growing season to combat the damage the boll worm causes to cotton.

Bt:  Cottonseed varieties that contain the genetic trait which makes the plant resistant to the boll worm.

Worried About The Wind: When a farmer plants genetically modified cotton in a field next to a farmer who plants non-genetically modified cotton, the wind direction must be considered before chemicals are applied in order to protect the farm with the non-genetically modified cotton from chemical damage.  Most farmers are very considerate of their neighbors in this respect.

Round Up Ready:  Cottonseed varieties that contain the genetic trait which makes the plant resistant to glyphosate herbicide, also known as Round Up.  Cotton grown with this trait can have glyphosate sprayed directly over the growing crop to control the weeds.

Hoe Hands:  Before herbicide was used to control weeds, large groups of farm workers would move from field to field chopping the weeds by hand with hoes

Burn Down:  After a field has been sprayed with herbicide and the weeds have died, you consider that a burn down.

 Cultivate: If you planted genetically modified cotton containing the Round Up Ready trait the previous year, the volunteer plants will be resistant to the herbicide and you must mechanically remove them by plowing with a plow called a cultivator.  Also, if you don't want to spray herbicide or plant non-genetically modified cotton, this simply refers to plowing your cotton crop and cleaning out the weeds between the rows.

Volunteer:  During harvest, locks of cotton are dropped and left in the field.  These locks of cotton contain cottonseed that will sprout the following spring.  These volunteer cotton plants are considered a "weed" since they are not in the row and are not easy to harvest.

Strippin': Dryland cotton is smaller than irrigated cotton and most harvesting is done with Cotton Strippers.  This refers to the way the harvester removes the cotton from the plant.  Sections of rubber flaps called bats and sections of long brushes rotate to strip everything from the stalk: leaves, burrs, cotton and all.  Larger cotton and much of the irrigated cotton use Cotton Pickers to harvest which use units that literally spin the cotton out of the burr taking only the cotton from the plant.

Barks:  Refers to the bark from the woody cotton stem.  This bark can make it's way into the cotton fibers and cause the grade of the cotton to come back marked "Bark."  This lowers the price a farmer will receive for that cotton since the bark must be removed from the fibers before it can be spun into thread and fabric.  Different factors can contribute to the problem, such as cotton that has died due to Cotton Root Rot.

I hope this clears up some of the language barrier that can occur as you read my blogs about cotton farming or if you ever find yourself leaning on the back of a pick up truck on the turn row talking about cotton to the Farmer I Kiss.  Leave me a comment with your own special definitions from your farming operations.