Promising signs

Dec 08, 2023

Story and photos by Claire Hill
As this December issue of The Cooperator goes to print, the 2023 harvest season is drawing to a close. Although the final report from the United States Department of Agriculture wasn’t available by press time, one farmer is reporting one of his best harvests to date. 

John Parrish, featured in the July 2023 issue of the magazine as one of our #Grow23 farmers, row-crops soybeans, corn, and cotton on 2,000 acres in Gibson and Madison counties.

"When rain is abundant in August, it's usually a promising sign for our crops,” says John, a longtime customer and member of Gibson Farmers Cooperative. “This August, however, we experienced an excessive amount of rain, which brought unexpected challenges, particularly concerning pollination."

John explains that during heavy rainfall, water accumulates in the cotton flowers and obstructs the pollination process, often causing buds to drop prematurely. He saw some of that happen with his cotton crop due to the wet conditions in August.

But despite the wetter-than-normal month, favorable conditions prevailed during October, John says — ideal for the cotton harvest.

"It's been exceptionally dry and perfect for transporting cotton to the gin," he notes, emphasizing the significance of a dry crop for efficient ginning.

“Wet cotton makes separating lint from seeds a challenge,” John explains. “We're expecting better cotton due to the dry October. Rain deteriorates the grade of cotton, so with this dry harvest season, we're getting exceptional grades.”

John also notes how harvesting has changed over the years due to the advancements in technology. The plastic that he uses on his cotton bales allows them to be weatherproofed, a significant advancement from previous methods of transporting the crop to the gin.

As harvest wraps up for this year, John is also researching future seed varieties with the help of Gibson Farmers Co-op Location Manager Jacob Kee.

“There’s been a lot of changes with cotton seed varieties over the years,” says Jacob. “I’ll meet with John and help him decide what seed he’s going to plant to allow him to be as successful as possible. We are always looking to help farmers improve their yields, whether that’s with seed selection, insect control, or soil nutrients.”

John notes that he had a successful corn and soybean harvest this year as well. He says it’s important for farmers to have a mix of crops in case one doesn’t do well.

“I tend to get up every morning before daylight this time of year to see the sunrise,” says John with a smile.  “Every harvest season, I hope for a blessed and beautiful day, because there's only one time to get your crop in and you’ve got to be ready.”

John says a strong work ethic is an essential characteristic of  a successful farmer, as high inputs and low commodity prices are an issue in today’s market.

“You have to be willing to work hard and work smart,” he says. “With the right inputs and some help from Mother Nature, things will work out.”

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