By Brandy Reed
High honors were in store for Plains Cotton Cooperative Association Director Eddie Smith of Floydada, TX, who recently earned the 1998 Southwest Division High Cotton Award.
As a result of his selection, Smith and his wife, Jennifer, attended the Beltwide Cotton Conference in San Diego, CA, Jan. 5-9, and were honored during a special High Cotton recognition breakfast. The annual honors program is sponsored by the Cotton Foundation, Memphis, TN, and administered by Farm Press Publications/Southwest Farm Press.
Smith’s operation consists of FC Farms, a partnership between Smith and his father Ed, and E&B Farms, a corporation including Ed, Eddie and Eddie’s son, Eric. The entire operation totals 3,700 acres in Floyd and Crosby counties with 3,000 acres in cotton production. The remaining acreage includes 500 acres of sorghum and 200 acres of dryland wheat.
Smith has added seven high-efficiency center pivot irrigation systems since 1993 to replace older furrow watering systems. To obtain 95 to 98 percent irrigation efficiency, Smith has incorporated LEPA (Low Energy Precision Application) on his limited well water resources, furrow diking and drag socks at the ends of pivot drop lines for water delivery. He also uses “deficit” irrigation where less water than the normal evapotranspiration rate for the crop is applied on a more frequent schedule.
Cotton raised under the center pivot systems is producing approximately 750 pounds of cotton per acre, according to Smith. Remaining row irrigated cotton is yielding 500 to 600 pounds per acre.
Each tractor in Smith’s operation uses a radar device to verify ground speed and to set and monitor each chemical application. This ensures proper application rates of pesticides and fertilizers. “We won’t apply anything without spray control,” Smith says.
The cotton crop is established and maintained with the fewest possible trips across Smith’s fields to conserve energy resources and reduce soil compaction. Cotton stalks from the previous season are left standing in the field, and virtually all nitrogen for the crops is applied through the center pivots. “We make as few field trips as we can,” he says.
Smith was a member of the National Cotton Council 1989-1990 Cotton Leadership Class. As a member of the National Cotton Council, he serves on its environmental task force. Smith also is treasurer of Cotton Incorporated.
Smith, a 1973 agricultural economics graduate of Texas Tech University, was nominated for the award by Pam Alspaugh, communications coordinator for Texas Tech’s International Textile Center.