From a press release written by Frank Jeter, Extension Editor, North Carolina State College, published in the Monroe Inquirer, May 18, 1947
One of the most discussed problems in the Southeast today is the place of cotton in the farming business, writes Frank Jeter, State Extension Editor. Some wish to plant their entire farms to the crop and others say there is absolutely no place for cotton whatsoever, especially in states like North Carolina and South Carolina.
Brice Ratchford, farm management specialist, says both of these groups are wrong. Those who have planted their entire farms in cotton have lived to see the washed fields of the piedmont, the poor shacks in which people must live, and the low income which an all-cotton farm will provide. On the other hand, those who will not plant cotton are foolish because it adds to the farm income; it is a dependable crop; it balances the labor on the farm; it proves both food and feed; and the staple is in demand.
Many North Carolina farmers have found there is an in between place for the crop. Mr. Ratchford has been making management studies of some farms in the southern piedmont section of the state and he finds that there is definitely a place for cotton.
Take the farm of Cam Cook of Route 4, Monroe, for instance. Mr. Cook owns a small farm, only 71 acres in size. He has 35 acres in crop land with the remaining acres in pasture, woodsland and the like. Mr. Cook and his family operate this farm with their own labor and he sells cotton, hybrids seeded corn, fluid milk, eggs, and chickens. He plants about six acres of cotton each year on his 35 acres of cleared land, and he makes from one to two bales an acre every year.
He says that he and his family are able to plant, hoe, and harvest this amount because he keeps his acreage in line with his available labor supply, he can look after the cotton in the proper way. Mr. Cook plants at the right time; he is careful with his fertilization, and he fights the boll weevil. As a result, cotton is the most important source of cash income on the farm. Mr. Cook says it can be made of similar importance on thousands of other small piedmont farms such as his. He finds that the cotton spreads out the work over the year, so to speak, and the crop fits nicely with the rotation of small grain, lespedeza, and corn. As a matter of fact, it is because of his cropping system that he has been able to pay in full for the farm that he bought only a few years ago.
Not only that, but he has remodeled the old home; he has built a fish pond for his children; and right now he is busy renovating all the buildings on the place, repairing them, and putting them in good shape while he has the money. He makes a bit of money from milk, from eggs, from poultry, and from the sale of lespedeza seed; and this bit of money comes in nicely as a supplementary cash income. But his income comes from cotton. The cotton is not perishable. It can stay under the shelter on his farm without deteriorating until he needs to sell it or until the market is right.
J. Dwight Starnes of Route 2, Waxhaw, also in Union County, is another small farmer who has found that cotton has a place on his farm. He owns 75 acres, with 45 acres of open land. Mr. Starnes grows nine acres to cotton each year, and, in addition, has a small herd of cows, some poultry and hogs. He produces on the farm practically all of the feed needed for the cows and for the chickens and hogs. Most of the labor on this farm is supplied by the family and Mr. Starnes says that the cotton enables them to use their labor to best advantage. He produces the same good yields as does Mr. Cook because he is able to give the cotton the attention which it deserves.
All Union County farmers are interested in cotton, yet the county is known as one of the best balanced farming sections in the state. It has a complete market for almost everything produced there. The new milk receiving station at Monroe started operation on June 16 and Jim Marsh, farm agent, says that the number of patrons interested are increasing each day.
For instance, J.C. Hawkins of Route 1, Waxhaw, a new farmer who has just moved into the county recently, started selling his surplus milk from three cows and he reports a monthly check now running from $55 to $60 after using all the milk he needs for home use. He believes that any small farmer, especially in the piedmont section, can milk at least four to six good cows along with his other work.
The cotton crop of Union has grown rather poorly this year and the weevil infestation has been heavy. A number of growers have been worried about a probably drop in income this fall and to all of these, Price Brawley, assistant to Jim Marsh, has been recommending that they begin to milk a few cows. In the past, the milk routes of the county could not serve all of those who had surplus milk to sell; but now, with the new market in Monroe, the market is unlimited. It does not take expensive equipment to produce fluid milk for manufacturing purposes, but it does take pastures, hay, grain, and grazing crops.
Mr. Brawley says that cotton also is needed to produce cottonseed meal, and he finds that as he travels over the county, the best farms, the nicest homes, and the highest living conditions are almost always on those places where dairy cows are kept.
Most of the dairymen of Union County are finding that spraying with a 50 per cent wettable DDT powder will completely control flies and roaches on their dairy farms. Most of those men have secured small orchard sprayers which they use for applying a two per cent solution of this mixture on their buildings and a one percent solution on their cows. They say that about $2 worth of the material will free their farms of files and that they have noted an increase from 15 to 30 per cent in milk production as a result of keeping the cows comfortable and free of the pests.
Union County young people have joined the endless chain pig club. Jim Marsh had placed 10 Hampshire pigs in eight communities and the pigs are flourishing. The folks in Union are also turning to bees. At a recent meeting attended by W.A. Stephen, Extension Specialist in beekeeping, a number of new Italian queens were ordered and were placed in the hives during June. Clayton C. Helms of Route 2, Marshville, is one of the enthusiastic beekeepers of the county, and has been elected president of the newly organized Union County Beekeepers club. Howard Williams is vice president and J. Clint Williams, secretary-treasurer.