What does it take to reap a record-setting cotton yield?
“It takes really good seed, fertility, ginning and, for me, it also takes center pivot irrigation,” said Texas grower Kirk Griffin.
Griffin should know. His 2016 – 2017 cotton crop was a record-breaker – averaging 4048 pounds or 8.4 bales per acre.
“The average around here is four to five bales,” said Royce Pyssen, owner of All-Tex Irrigation, a Zimmatic dealer in San Angelo, Texas. “I believe in the past one other person has done close to eight bales, but it’s very uncommon to have that kind of yield in this part of the country.”
Griffin’s operation is located near Eldorado, Texas – in the south central part of the state. For the past six years, he’s grown only cotton on 300 acres, 250 of which are under six small Zimmatic pivots.
“I have undulated fields – they’re not flat. My fields are also really rocky and pretty shallow, too, so flood and drip irrigation systems wouldn’t work on my farm,” he said. “Pivot irrigation was definitely the way to go.”
Working with the team at All-Tex Irrigation, Griffin opted to install six small pivots rather than using longer spans.
“I went with the small pivots and use end guns, because I needed to make the most of every acre,” he said. “The smaller systems fit the contour of my land, and I feel like I have more control. I can speed up and slow down the machines, depending on the terrain – micro-managing the parts of the field that absorb water slower.”
Griffin also runs fertility through his pivot, which, he said is another benefit of the Zimmatic system.
“Some of my pivots are 12-years-old, and they show no sign of deterioration,” he said. “Because of the limitations on my farmland, I don’t think I would have had a record yield without the pivots.”
As for the record… Griffin thinks it might already be in jeopardy.
“This kind of yield has never happened before, but I definitely think it will happen again,” he said. “In fact, I might break it this year, because we’re off to a really good start.”