Update from the Field: Bubba Simmons
We caught up with MSPB member Bubba Simmons in early July to see how things are looking on his farm. Simmons farms near Hollandale, MS.
What has your growing season been like?
Things are looking good and our crop is on track as far as what is typical for this time of year. We have had pleasant weather with some timely rains this year. We have only had to irrigate once this season so far, which is less than average. Insect pressure has been minimal on our farm this year. Redbanded stink bugs were a threat in Mississippi last year and that can be really difficult to control, but so far their pressure has been minimal. Disease pressure has been minimal as well. The herbicide-resistant weed situation is bad and getting worse. We are working on this issue by putting down a pre-emergence herbicide right after we plant. We then come back with another residual herbicide three weeks later. We are spending the money to fight it, but the problem is getting harder and more expensive to fight every year.
What has kept you busy this year?
Although we have only irrigated once, we always have to be prepared for hot, dry weather. We have two center pivots on our farm, but 90 percent of my acres are irrigated with furrow irrigation. We spend a lot of time on it, but it is worth it. Once we have sprayed herbicides we go into irrigation mode and that lasts until harvest. It takes a little time to get the field ready. We try to install soil moisture sensors early so that they become acclimated. Then poly tubing and, in some cases, surge valves are placed in the field and holes punched according to the design from Pipe Planner. The thing with irrigation is that you can’t wait to decide on whether it rains or not. You can’t wait until your ground looks dry like you would with a houseplant to decide to irrigate. You need things in place so when and if the time comes you can irrigate in a timely manner. Computerized hole sizing, surge valves and soil moisture sensors are relatively new technology to our farm over the past five years. Before that, we used poly tubing, but there was no computerized system. Sometimes we were right and sometimes we weren’t. It wasn’t a scientific approach. And we found that by using the tools I mentioned, we could pump less water, use less energy and greatly increase our irrigation efficiency.
What is next as the season comes to an end?
We will continue to irrigate as needed and to monitor our fields for insects and diseases until about two weeks before harvest. In the meantime, we are working to make sure storage and equipment are ready for harvest.