Going Organic or Going Home
In my pursuit of organic farming over the past decade, I've come to many realizations. Some, have not been easy to accept. Others, have been even harder. But after this time of trial, error, retrial, drought, replant, herbicide drift, rethink, paper work, activism, regroup, etc., I'm more determined than ever to be purely an organic farmer.
As we are in the midst of another cotton planting season, we have an unusual set of circumstances before us here in West Texas -- the earth is too wet. Yes, you read that right. We've hit the ground running, planting when we can, but another rainstorm blessed us again. We're not going to complain. As it has been over five years since we've had good moisture, some may argue eight years. But, I can't find any farmer of any age who has seen it rain as much as it has here in the past three months.
The excessive rains poses a challenge for an organic cotton farmer. Usually, we are able to get in the fields and tame the weeds. As I began planting my organic field yesterday, it was taking me three times as long to plant due to mud balling up on sweeps and discs. As I cussed and huffed and puffed every two minutes, I was stopping my tractor to get off and clean all eight units again. Instead of covering almost 50 acres in a few hours, I covered half that. But, it is still a good problem at this point.
Of my 250 organic acres, half is wheat and the other half is cotton. In the USA, approximately 200,000 acres of wheat and only 15,000 acres of cotton are produced organically. They both account for less than one percent of production when adding the entire organic global market. While organic production is on the rise in America, it isn't getting easier for organic farmers. More GMO crops and more herbicide use by neighbors makes this a tougher profession than ever.
Weed control is our biggest issue in organic farming. Shortly behind that is herbicide drift and contamination of GMO crops. These are battles that will not go away anytime soon. So, I accept the fact that being an organic farmer is a tougher row to hoe than the conventional or GMO one. And I'm fine with that.
Eventually, I'll get back in the field. Eventually, I'll get the weeds under control. Eventually, I'll harvest my organic wheat crop. And eventually, every single acre I work will be organic.