In Uncertain Times, Producer Turns to Cotton

Caroline Gentry, Georgia Cotton Commission

Fifth-generation Putnam County Dairyman Chad Davis operates Green Glades Farm with his father Russell Davis and uncle Heck Davis. Green Glades Farm was established in the late 1940s when Chad’s grandfather, Jack Davis bought farmland and started his own dairy operation. In addition to dairy, Chad also grows sweet corn, sorghum, hay, wheat and rye.

Growing up on the farm, Chad gained experience managing a variety of responsibilities including milking cows. He attended the University of West Georgia where he earned a business degree in hopes to browse other opportunities outside of farming. After college, he realized quickly that his heart was back home in Eatonton where his wife Jessica and their children now reside. Putnam County was once a prominent cotton growing area before the arrival of the boll weevil in the 1910s.  The boll weevil, combined with other adverse concerns, put many growers in this part of the state out of business in the early 1970s. Although Putnam County is not a top cotton producing county in Georgia today, Chad has always had an interest in growing cotton. His research began when he and his family visited his sister in Memphis, Tennessee years ago and toured The Cotton Museum at the Memphis Cotton Exchange. “My family wanted to walk around town, and I noticed a cotton museum, so I went in there and stayed until they shut it down. The lady that worked there even gave me a free pass to come back. I’ve always been interested in cotton because it is very historically important to our country, and I love learning something new and the process of figuring things out.”

When making final decisions for the 2022 crop year, Chad attended a UGA cotton production meeting, where he could ask more detailed questions about growing cotton from the expertise of UGA cotton specialists. With the guidance of neighbor farmers, he was able to build enough confidence to follow through with the decision to plant cotton in early June, which was later than he hoped. Other local farmers have offered him support with their knowledge and assisting with farm equipment. “As our farm continues to evolve and with the high cost of inputs, I was looking for another crop to rotate with and one that requires less fertilizer, and their advice helped me make this decision.”

So far Chad is pleased with how his crop is turning out, “I have really enjoyed the whole process so far, but this is a learning year for me, and I know I have some improvements to make in the future, such as planting earlier and getting pix (plant growth regulator) on the cotton sooner.” Depending on how this year’s crop finishes, Chad says he hopes to keep cotton a part of his rotation moving forward and potentially expand.