Pre-watering to plant on 40-inch spacings takes as little as 4 inches of water, Seidenberger says. With 80-inch spaces, he may need 10 inches of pre-watering in a dry year to get the beds wet on both sides of the tape.

Most of his wells supply from 2 to 3 gallons per minute per acre. “Three gallons provides 15/100 inch per day for the crop. During peak moisture demand — blooming — cotton uses 3/10 inch a day. So during blooming, we are only giving the plant half of the water itneeds every dayWe just hope we keep enough moisture in the soil profile to get us through or get a rain.”

He says 5 to 6 gallons per minute per acre is “ideal for drip irrigation to provide cotton all the water it needs through the season. We’re always behind — sometimes rain catches us up, but in-season we run the system all the time to stay where we need to be. Some farmers are using 1.5 to 2 gallons per minute per acre and still making good yields.”

Good year

His 2010 crop was a little off from 2009, Seidenberger says; it was hurt by a too-wet June and earlyJuly and a too-dry August. Still, with a combination of good yields and excellent price, he expects a good cotton year. And he’ll soon be busy getting ready to make his next crop.

Busy as he is, Seidenberger still manages to give back to his industry, his family and his community. He serves on the Cotton Incorporated board, the Texas Pest Management Association, the Lions Club, and the St. Lawrence Cotton Growers. He’s a volunteer fireman and a Little League baseball and football coach.  He has served on the St. Lawrence Catholic Church Parish Council and FSA County Committee.

He’s devoted to his family, wife Christy (a school nurse), sons Reed, 8, and Owen, 6, and daughter Lacy, 2.

He says he’s never thought about doing anything other than farming— the long-ago banker’s advice notwithstanding. “While I was in school at Angelo State, I missed the farm; I found out pretty quickly what I wanted to do.”

He studied ag business in college, but says farming “is in my blood.”

It must be: He is the fifth generation — on both his father’s and his mother’s (Ellen) side — to farm. His mother’s Runnels County family farm was recently awarded the State of TexasHeritage Award for having been in the family for 100 years. “It’s still owned and operated by my mother’s family,” he says.

Farming is a heritage of which Eric Seidenberger is proud. He’s also proud that he’s been able to carry on that tradition and that he’s learned a lot about farming in16 years on his own — such as conserving soil and water make environmental and economic sense; technology pays dividends; and family is what matters most.

Oh yes, and bankers aren’t always right.

rsmith@farmpress.com