Fiber Ready: Retired farmer keeps cotton connection alive | Community

Philip Bosley has more than proven that cotton can be grown in western Kentucky.

And just behind his house off East Parrish Avenue, a “playground” of soft white staple is ready to be harvested.

Bosley, an 82-year-old retired farmer from Daviess County, said the little cotton he produces was never about financial gain, even when he worked for a living.

“Sorghum farmers were teasing me,” Bosley said. “They were like, ‘Philip can’t make money with this cotton.’ … I said, ‘I know I can’t make any money with this, and I’m not trying to do it.’ I just don’t want him to disappear from the county.

Bosley’s cotton connection began when he was a teenager.

Bosley said that growing up he had access to free cottonseed from an aunt who married into a cotton-growing family in Kentucky.

And although cotton grew well in Daviess County, Bosley said his father preferred the financial security of tobacco and didn’t want to waste the little tobacco manpower he had on plucking cotton. .

“… I asked dad, ‘Why don’t we grow cotton?’ And he said, ‘I’ll tell you exactly why. You never know what you will do with cotton. But with tobacco you have a reasonable idea of ​​what you are going to do. And that was before mechanical (cotton) harvesters, ”said Bosley.

Like all crops, the now-planted Bosley Cotton has been genetically modified to be Roundup resistant to allow the defoliant to be sprayed around the cotton bushes without damaging them. And the boll weevil, known to feed on cotton buds and flowers, has been eradicated from cotton fields.

“You don’t need to fertilize cotton a lot, but to do it right it takes a lot of chemicals,” Bosley said.

Cotton production in the United States fluctuates significantly from year to year. According to, there were 14.95 million bales of cotton produced in 2020 against 19.91 million bales in 2019.

And Texas is still the number one cotton producing state. In 2018, Texas produced 6.94 million bales of cotton, followed by Georgia with 1.95 million bales.

For the past two years, Bosley has harvested and then stored his cotton in his tobacco barn.

Bosley said he would end up transporting his crop to a cotton ginning plant, which separates the cotton fibers from the seeds and then is baled separately.

“There are no longer operating ginning plants in the state of Kentucky,” Bosley said. “… The nearest gin is 180 miles in West Tennessee.”

After Bosley’s harvest this year, he estimated he would have around four bales of cotton if he had to combine them with what he has in stock.

On Wednesday, the price of cotton was $ 1.12 a pound.

“The price of cotton is as high as I have seen it in my life,” said Bosley. “… The last time I sold cotton it was 23 cents a pound. But that was several years ago.

Don Wilkins, [email protected], 270-691-7299