FOR THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
The DAR Micajah Pettaway Chapter met November 15, 2012, 10:30 a. m. in Braswell Memorial Library. After Regent Dottie Barrett greeted everyone, she introduced prospective member guests Debra Tucker and Marjorie Bradley.
Speaker and former Regent Toni Wade delivered the program on cotton. Toni is an independent Agriculture Crop Consultant. Independent means she does not make any money from any chemical or fertilizer sales. The name of her company is Crop Management, Inc. Toni can be reached at 252-450-9600.
If a farmer sprays a thousand acres of his cotton fields, it could cost him about $12,000. If she can delay or prevent spraying, she can possibly save him close to $1,000 per day. He simply pays her a few dollars per acre for scouting his fields with her helpers. The idea not to spray until absolutely necessary is called reaching the “economic threshold.”
Toni is also a Technical Service Provider for NRCS, the Natural Resource Conservation Service (formerly Soil and Water Conservation).
She is certified to do pest management programs and nutrient management programs. She is the only person in North Carolina and Florida who is certified to write “transition to organic” plans and management programs.
Toni left Miami, Florida and went to the University of Georgia .She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts. After taking an undergraduate horticulture class, she stayed there and earned a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture and a Masters Degree in Plant Protection and Pest Management. Pest Management is a combination of agronomy, plant pathology and entomology.
At one time she worked for a consultanting firm in the area. After she told them she wanted to be a Crop Consultant instead of a Scout, they told her no one would hire her “because she is a girl.” Toni is in an occupation where it is a man’s world.
When she first came to North Carolina, Ralph Brake, an Edgecombe County farmer, had her scout his cotton on Saturdays. He also took her to see other farmers and she influenced them to save money by not spraying their cotton fields.
By walking in an X or S pattern in a field, a Cotton Scout monitors the field’s pest population. As an internship for her Masters Degree, she worked as a Cotton Scout in north Georgia. She supervised five young men in three counties. Many petroleum companies made chemicals for agriculture use.
She got a job selling agriculture products mainly in the peanut market in North Carolina and Virginia. While living in Rocky Mount then, she fell in love with the area.
It is amazing how technology has helped. She used to have a beeper so somebody could page her and she would return the call. She bought FAX machines and put them where her scouts could report to her. Today, she can receive emails, contact clients and take pictures with her cell phone.
If she is 12 miles from the farmer and he had just sprayed a field, but she found out he needed to spray another nearby field, she could get word to him while he is in that area. She may need to tell him to go spray another nearby field for worms. She can communicate with the farmer if he is on one of his tractors, too. All this saves the farmer’s time.
When she does soil samples, she computerizes the results for the farmers.
Few farmers had an organized system of keeping up with their maps. First, it was difficult for her to figure out 20 year old aerial maps. As farmers drove her through fields, she wrote down the directions.
Then she returned to the fields and drew pictures of where the fields were. Finally it clicked for her. Now, if she knows where her location is on that aerial photograph, she can take you to any place on the map.
She has all the aerial photographs from their new FSA (Farm Service Agency) and organizes them in a notebook.
A boll weevil is a mean creature that can injure more than 25 cotton boll blossoms and 100 baby bolls. .It was devastating to our cotton crop. The Boll Weevil Eradication Program started in North Carolina.
Cotton is seed hair. Their seeds are in seed locks like an orange which may have 5-7 seeds. A healthy boll has 5-7 seeds in a lock. The cotton blossom has to be pollinated by bees. After being fertilized for the first 23 days, the fiber cotton grows long. The cotton fiber fattens up in the second 23 days. The length is called the staple. The width is called micronaire.
Cotton is an amazing plant! It is like magic! It is thread made on a plant. It is just like cotton balls in the drug store except their seeds have been ginned away. Cotton makes clothes which breathe and they absorb moisture. It is wonderful, “the fabric of our lives”.
Martha Blount and Toni Wade were thanked for being hostesses this month.
Regent Dottie closed with Prayer II from the DAR Ritual for Thanksgiving. It was An American Day of Thanksgiving commemorating the Pilgrim celebration of a good harvest in 1621.