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Cotton reigns, catfish gaining

Cotton is still king in Dallas County, according to Ben Beers, a Dallas County cotton farmer.

Still, as a board member for the Central Alabama Farmer Cooperative, he knows many farmers in the area aren’t growing cotton. &uot;Peanuts are getting a toe hold,&uot; he said.

Much of the County’s land &045; 233,422 acres to be exact &045; is used to produce valuable commodities which are sent to all parts of the state and nation.

Cotton and peanuts are among a few. Dallas County is ranked second in the state for catfish production and fifth for cattle and soybean production.

Catfish production is one of the rapidly growing forms of aquaculture &045; the production of farm raised catfish, crawfish and other aquatic life forms for human consumption.

Dallas County farmers are also growing sod, or grass, corn and peanuts.

Beers said much of the buildup of corn and peanut production is because of crop rotation, but some of it can be attributed to economic factors, like the rising prices on peanuts and corn.

Cotton prices have been in decline, resulting in Dallas County farmers moving on to other crops.

Luckily for cotton farmers like Beers though, new technology has made it cheaper and more cost efficient to produce cotton.

With over 1700 acres of land growing cotton, labor costs &045; coupled with fertilizer and seed &045; can destoy Beers’ profit margin.

Round Up and Ready, varieties of cotton seed, are less labor intensive and don’t require as much weeding or fertilizer as other forms.

Beers said another reason farmers like him can stay in business is the Boll Weevil eradication program.

This famous bug, responsible for introducing peanut and soybean production to the south on a wide scale, is almost entirely eradicated, thanks to the introduction of new pesticides.

With new tehnology and new pesticides, Dallas county provides $49 million to the local economy, with only 408 farms and providing more than 7000 jobs.