Farm City awards: Cotton Farmers

Todd and Amy Mason accept the 2019 Cotton Farmer of the Year Award.

Todd is a second-generation Jackson County farmer. He has farmed all his life, starting at an early age with his father, Gerald Mason, and later branching out into his own operation in 2007. Growing up, he said, “There was a never a day off, always something different with the equipment auction, crops, or cows,” and he loved every minute of it. Todd and his wife Amy will have been married for 13 years on their anniversary next month. Amy is the cornerstone of the farm. Todd says that he does the field work, what he considers the fun stuff, while she manages both the household and financial management of the farm. He said, “Without her I’d probably have to shut down.”

Their farm operation consists of 1,320 acres of cropland, with 760 acres planted in cotton this year. Todd said 675 of those acres were dry-land production, with only 85 acres of irrigated cotton. The Masons grew three cotton varieties this year: PhytoGen 530, PhytoGen 580, and NexGen 5007. All of their cotton is strip tilled on a 36” row spacing. Todd said this year they are ahead of schedule. They finished with peanut harvest and have less than 250 acres of cotton left to pick. He said that last year’s cotton crop had looked much better prior to Hurricane Michael, but this year’s crop certainly did not disappoint with what he estimates to be a two-bale average for the farm. Todd generally plants PhytoGen cotton varieties, which have produced great yields year after year. While he has been satisfied with their performance, this year he also tried some NexGen cotton. Approximately 100 acres were planted on some of their lower yielding land. So far, he has been very happy with its performance. In addition to cotton, they also grow seed peanuts for Florida Foundation Seed.

Helping Todd and Amy on the farm is their oldest son Bradley who is 15, Todd’s father Gerald Mason, and their friend George Weber, along with one or two extra workers at harvest. Todd and Amy are members of the Sowega Cotton Gin, the Florida Peanut Producers Association, Farm Credit of Northwest Florida, and Graceville First United Methodist Church.

The Masons wanted to take this opportunity to thank their friends and neighboring farmers who have helped them along the way. Back in 2014, Todd got very sick and was physically unable to harvest his crops. A group of friends and neighbors banded together to provide the labor and equipment needed to harvest the Masons’ crops and keep them in business. Todd said, “None of this would have been possible without God, Gerald and Sharon Mason, George and Maxine Weber, Harvey Harrell, Dexter Gilbert, Dave DeFelix, the Dietrich’s, Ronald Barber, Chris Jernigan, John Stuckey, Rob Burks and their wonderful family.” This group is a community of farmers that are always willing to pitch in to help each other whenever a need arises.

The Cotton Farmer of the Year is selected each year by the Jackson County Extension Staff with the assistance of the local agricultural supply dealers.

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