On Oct. 13, 2022, Peyton Wilde brought in the first bale of the season for Idalou Coop Gin. I shared the post on the Plains Cotton Growers Facebook page, not realizing how exciting it would be for people to see his name and photo on the page.
When I spoke with Idalou Coop Gin General Manager Keith Grayson, he had one thing to say about the producer from Lubbock County.
“Peyton will put in twice as many hours on a tractor, spray rig or stripper than two normal hands in a week.”
I say this all the time, but one of the things I love about this job is the opportunity to share the stories of upstanding, wholesome, humble people. The following is a Q&A with Peyton Wilde, recently elected Idalou Coop Gin board member.
Q: Why did you choose to farm for your livelihood?
A: Well, it’s all I’ve known. My dad farms in Wall, Texas. I couldn’t tell you what generation farmer I am — I just know that my family has been farming since they got off the boat in the 1800s. I landed a job as a farm hand with Brandon, Mike and Norine Patschke while in college, and they mentored me and made it possible for me to farm for a living. I initially thought I was going to be an ag teacher, but quickly realized it wasn’t for me.
Q: Is this the worst year you’ve had as a farmer?
A: Personally, as a farmer with my own land, I would say yes. However, 2011 was really bad, too, and I was working for the Patschkes by that point. I would say that 2011 was hotter and dryer than this year, but input prices weren’t near as high. This year, the market has been so volatile and combining that with high input prices makes for a tough year. It can be depressing to look at it and think about it. Everyone that works on the farm can get down about this year we’re having.
Q: With the year as challenging as it has been, what makes you get up in the morning and face the day?
A: I’ve always had the philosophy that if you get up and hit the ground running before your brain catches up, you’ll have a decent day. And there’s always the chance that something will change for the better. One time, I had some friends ask me why I was trying to get a crop going when it was so dry. I told them you never know what’s going to happen. That very night it rained and kept raining and it was the best crop we had ever produced. You just never know what might turn around in your favor. And you definitely won’t know if you give up. In this country, you have to keep fighting.
Q: How many acres do you think you’ll harvest this year?
A: Well, all of our dryland is gone, but we’ll harvest 30% of our irrigated. We failed a lot of acres and could have failed more, but it’s hard to do that when you know how badly the world needs cotton.
Q: Is there value in a support system as a farmer?
A: Definitely. I still work with the Patschkes plus farm my own land, but if something needs work on my land, you can find them out there fixing it for me. We all just work together. And my family is amazing. They taught me everything I know about farming and helped me with a down payment for my first farmland purchase. I have great friends in the farming industry that I can visit with and learn from. I just surround myself with good farmers and hope it rubs off on me.
Q: Were you trying to get the first bale into Idalou Coop Gin?
A: No, not necessarily — first bale is generally not your best cotton, especially on irrigated. I harvested that bale off of the first farmland I ever purchased, which is neat.
Q: What’s the most beneficial thing you’ve learned while farming?
A: The Patschkes have always been proactive and progressive in farming and I’ve learned a lot from that approach. We are big believers in cover crops and soil health so we rotate crops in like hay grazer and wheat. Half of our irrigated fields use drip irrigation. The Patschkes were one of the first farming operations to implement drip in Lubbock County.
And I learned early on that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life.
The good Lord put me on this Earth to be a cotton farmer, so I’m going to farm cotton.