Ron Smith

Southwest Farm Press

Ron Smith has spent more than 30 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Denton, Texas. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and two grandsons, Aaron and Hunter.

Cotton facing complicated year in Washington
Cotton, along with other U.S. farm commodities, will face” quite a challenging and complicated year in Washington” fighting budget pressures and working through a farm bill debate.
Cotton market concerned over global supply
China is a key wildcard. Weather in the Southwest U.S. is also a wildcard. Cotton’s price decline also may help push demand. Global stocks weigh on the market.
EPA allows farmers a weapon against cotton root rot
Topguard was a fungicide few would have predicted to play a role in cotton root rot control. Topguard is an older chemical, used in other parts of the world since the 1980s. It was more recently brought into the United States to deal with soybean rust. The EPA has granted Texas a Section 18 emergency exemption to use Topguard to control cotton root rot.
Weed control arsenal expanding for grain sorghum
Grain sorghum producers may soon have some new bullets in their weed control arsenals with two sources of herbicide tolerance expected sometime around 2014.
Cotton Belt set for La Niña phase in 2012
Warmer than usual water in that area creates El Nino conditions and typically wetter and cooler conditions across the Cotton Belt. Cooler water temperatures push thunder storms westward and create drier and warmer conditions for the Southern U.S. A La Niña phase can cause rainfall patterns to deviate significantly from normal, Zierden said, typically 20 percent to 30 percent less in the Southwest and as much as a 50 percent drop in parts of Florida.
2011 a battle of will for Texas cotton grower
Even with 2011 offering him the worst growing conditions he’s ever faced, Shawn Holladay, who farms near Lamesa, Texas, says his commitment to stay with his cotton production plan and to keep his land worked and ready to make a crop at all times never wavered.
Trapping feral hogs a test of patience
Trapping wild pigs is a lot more complicated than setting a trap and waiting until a pig stumbles into it. Successful trapping requires reconnaissance, bait selection, attention to detail in building the trap — and, perhaps most important, patience.
Weather concerns reigned over cotton industry in 2011
Weather, to no one’s surprise, topped the list of 2011 concerns for cotton consultants and their clients. Weather issues included the gamut from record-setting drought, unrelenting heat, devastating floods, humidity and hail stones as big as lemons.
La Nina to stick around through 2012
El Nino will return and likely will bring a little more rainfall than usual to the Southwest. But first, the region likely will experience from one year to 18 months of continued dry conditions, says Mark Fox, warning and coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service.
Money to be made by yield mapping cotton
Technology is getting easier, and there is money to be made with yield monitoring in cotton. Yield mapping may help cotton farmers manage inputs more efficiently and reduce production costs. New on-board, module building harvesters are better designed for yield mapping.
Cotton fiber quality mapping poses challenges
Mapping fiber quality within a cotton field poses some unique challenges, but if researchers can determine a way to identify specific areas where specific quality levels show up farmers may be able to adjust management to improve quality.
Crop insurance may rise as water availability declines
As water availability declines, crop insurance coverage may see adjustments in premium increases and possibly some irrigated fields that may become uninsurable if producers can no longer expect adequate water.
Cotton sensor system gains popularity in crop production
The primary challenges cotton farmers face in using crop sensors to manage variable rate application are developing prescriptions and adjusting equipment properly to apply established rates.
Agriculture moving from surplus to shortage
For decades U.S. farmers produced in times of surplus and typically sold for relatively low prices. That situation seems to be changing. That change comes with significant challenges. Farmers will be racing to follow $2 cotton or to higher priced corn. Agricultural production will need balance to meet U.S. and international needs. We now add one million people to the globe every five days. Farmers have to provide food and fiber for that growing population.
Agricultural profits depend on seizing opportunity
Since 1995 the top 25 percent of farm managers earned more than 10 percent on their investments. Ag lenders also have to counsel farmers and ranchers on living cost management. Family living costs have risen dramatically over the last four decades. In 1967, family living withdrawals were $4,000 per year. In 1986, costs had increased to $20,000 and by 2011 they were at $80,000. 40 percent of farmers and ranchers have no health insurance.
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