Since year 2000, the Georgia Cotton Commission sponsors the King Cotton Awards to recognize Extension agents’ outstanding contributions to the cotton industry. The Senior Award is given to an agent with ten or more years of experience with Extension. The Junior Award, named the Allen B. Fulford Award, is given to an agent with less than 10 years of service. The latter award honors the accomplishments and memory of the late Allen B. Fulford as a county Extension agent and state cotton agronomist.
The 2011, King Cotton Awards were presented by the Georgia Cotton Commission’s Karen Nikitopoulos at the UGA Extension Georgia Agricultural County Agents Annual Meeting on November 9, 2011, in Valdosta. They went to two very deserving agents and the Commission offers congratulations to both of these gentlemen.
Jeremy Kichler of Macon County and recipient of the Senior Award has greatly impacted his county and the cotton industry since he was the first to recognize the problem of glyphosate resistant pigweed and alerted the industry. As of March 2011, sixty-five of Georgia’s counties have confirmed populations of this pest and it infests 1.6 million of our farm land.
The research and educational programs helmed solo by Jeremy and those conducted with UGA Extension specialists and researchers have made the difference between bankruptcy and profitable farming for literally hundreds of cotton farmers in Georgia. Based on these efforts, and according to University of Georgia research during 2009, recommendations to manage glyphosate resistant Palmer amaranth were adopted in 75 percent of Georgia’s cotton acres. One specific example was in a cotton field grown by a producer in the Crisp/Dooly County area to showcase the magnitude of the problem to US Congressional aids in 2007. This particular field, over fifty acres, was thick with pigweed with little prospect of producing a crop for harvest, much less for profit. That field during this 2011, growing season showed a cotton crop that was absolutely free of pigweed. The difference made for this farmer was the adoption of management practices recommended by UGA in which Jeremy played a major role in developing. If this success is multiplied across an estimated 1.2 million acres (calculated from values above) using UGA recommendations in combat with this pest, a profound impact on Georgia’s cotton industry and agricultural economy can be seen.
Jeremy’s research efforts have resulted in numerous publications and speaking engagements. This includes several appearances at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences’ national audience and as an invited speaker to a number of regional events and venues. Beyond pigweed, he has an excellent cotton education and service program which includes an annual cotton production meeting, timely newsletters, literally thousands of cotton farmer calls and field visits per year. He is regularly called to assist growers not only in Macon County but in those surrounding, and County Agents from across Georgia’s cotton belt often use him as a resource.
The Allen B. Fulford-Junior Award was presented to Chris Tyson of Worth County. The remarkable thing about Chris is that when he began his Extension career in 2008, he had no cotton production…or any row crop experience whatsoever. However, in three years, he has made great strides in becoming a valued agent to the cotton growers in his county.
Chris quickly realized how important cotton is to Worth…a county that planted over 63,000 acres in 2011, with a farm gate value of more than $50 million. When he started with Extension, he repeatedly called on fellow agents and specialists, spent long hours in the field and read many books and publications; he sought out any resource he could to gain knowledge about cotton.
In 2009, Chris began scouting cotton to gain the important, first-hand experience he knew was necessary. He took the initiative to scout several fields in the county, very much as a learning service project. Through this he was able to observe the crop throughout the growing season and cultivate relationships with several of his farmers. During that year, Chris was also one of the first in the county to identify a severe outbreak of fall armyworms.
A very active role was taken by Chris in the research and educational programs when working with his predecessor, assuming leadership and responsibility in those programming efforts. He also gave a very impressive presentation on Worth County’s variety trials during their 2010, cotton production meeting.
When Chris took over as coordinator in Spring 2011, Worth County cotton growers didn’t suffer a bit under his leadership. He fulfills field visits, responses to growers’ needs, research trials, hardcopy and email newsletters. All facets of the programs continued at the same level of efficiency and expertise as the growers in his county have come to expect.