Cotton is no longer King….
I grew up in the loess bluffs on the edge of the Mississippi Delta, commonly known as “The Hills.” The soil is rich and fertile, and although the farms were much smaller than the expansive Delta farms, you could hardly drive a mile without seeing rows of fluffy, white cotton. Everyone’s lives and livelihoods revolved around cotton, whether you farmed or not. If the farmers “made a good crop” they spent money at the local businesses. Cotton drove the economy in rural areas, just as it did in antebellum times. Over the last two decades though, the price of cotton has remained at 1970s levels, making growing it less and less profitable. So unprofitable that most farmers have turned to corn, soybeans, rice and even wheat fields like these….
Now, wheat is beautiful and very important I know, but I miss cotton. As a child, you were always aware of the cycle of farming- when they planted, seeing the crop dusters as they performed ariel stunts over the fields, and you could certainly smell the defoliant they sprayed! Everyone knew you needed to have a bloom before the Fourth of July to make it before the first frost, and would examine the fields as they drove to see who was on schedule.
I always loved harvest time the most. Fields that looked like snow at the end of a long, hot, Mississippi summer. Seeing the cotton pickers run through the night when the farmers were concerned about getting the crop out before a big rain. It meant I would soon get to visit my grandfather at the cotton gin where he worked during ginning seasons after he retired. I would walk around with him as he shouted what the noisy machines were doing and then if I was lucky, I got to jump in the cotton on one side of the trailer as one of the workers suctioned the cotton from the other side! Sadly, that gin and most of the other ones in the county are now shut down.
I took this picture of a field that has yet to be tilled, they should start planting in the next few weeks…. I hope they will plant cotton….