The air is hot and humid. It sits on your shoulders the minute you step outside. But to Garry Dillard, the heat and humidity are just part of farming in lower Alabama.
Dillard and his brother Kenneth farm approximately 3,900 acres of cotton and 800 acres of peanuts on Dillard Farms. Since 1975, the pair have worked side by side, and at 60, Garry says farming is still fun.
“It’s good to plant a crop and harvest it, especially a good crop,” Dillard says. “The main fun is the fall when you harvest it. If it’s a good crop, you know you’ve done good; you’ve done everything you’re supposed to. The good Lord and us made this crop right here.”
Dillard’s operation stretches into Florida, where he rents land from Todd Shelley, owner of Shelley Farms. Shelley grows several types of specialty crops, including watermelon, squash, eggplant, cucumbers and more. Dillard and Shelley met early in the season to talk through where Dillard would plant the PhytoGen® cottonseed with the Enlist® trait. Shelley showed Dillard where all the vegetable crops were planted.
Dillard would plant the cotton next to a large field of watermelons. Although it did raise eyebrows at first, both agreed a farmer following the label could apply Enlist One® herbicide successfully to the cotton without it moving on to the watermelons.
“I was concerned about the Enlist herbicide,” Shelley says. “However, we worked together and communicated a lot, and they’ve applied Enlist One twice, and we haven’t seen any problems.”
Before each application, Dillard and Shelley would review the label and monitor the environmental conditions, such as wind direction, wind speed and temperature. Dillard would only spray if the weather allowed him to meet label requirements and was conducive to an on-target application. After the applications, Shelley scouted closely for any issues with the watermelons. There were no problems.
“I talked to Todd and asked if he was good with me spraying,” Dillard says. “I kept the boom real low to the crop, and there was no drift at all. The tank mix of Enlist One stayed on target. It didn’t touch the watermelons. Todd was pleased, and I was pleased, too, because I don’t want to hurt his melons.”
With his background in cotton, Dillard was surprised when his retailer told him he could apply a 2,4-D herbicide to PhytoGen cottonseed with the Enlist trait. He has been more than pleased with the tolerance of Enlist cotton to Enlist herbicides, and he appreciates the weed control power. The technology helps him rid his fields of yield-robbing pigweed infestations. And if there’s one thing he can’t stand to see in his fields, it’s pigweed.
“The main thing I’m trying to get is pigweeds. Everything else you can control pretty good with other products like Roundup, but it won’t control pigweed unless you put something with it like 2,4-D, like Enlist Duo® herbicide,” Dillard says. “That’s the only way I can finally get rid of pigweed. They’re aggravating; they cost a lot of money to get rid of. But Enlist is a good product. It does a good job with it.”
Dillard knows a pigweed problem can and will hurt the crop and the yield potential. That’s why he will do everything he can to get them out and keep them out of his fields. A clean field not only looks better but also yields better. Beyond the numbers, a clean field gives Dillard a sense of pride knowing he has taken good care of the land.
Although Shelley can’t use Enlist herbicides on his vegetable crops, he understands why the Dillards need the technology. Plus, he gains from the weed control as well.
“Mother Nature advances quicker than we do. If we don’t continue to advance, Mother Nature will leave us behind,” Shelley explains. “With Enlist herbicides controlling the pigweed population, we don’t have the seedbank to contend with the following year when we plant vegetables.”
Dillard plans to continue using the Enlist® system, saying it’s a big part of his weed control program. He appreciates the collaboration with Shelley to help make the Enlist system a success for both of them. They agree that communication throughout the application process is essential.
A good crop, excellent weed control and working together keep farming fun for Dillard and Shelley.
Minimum till, Irrigated