FARWELL, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The father and son duo, Ryan Williams and Mark Williams produced high-quality cotton with consistent yields, which earned them the 2023 Farm Press/ Cotton Foundation High Cotton Award for the Southwest region.
Their story began in the early 1920’s, just south of Farwell, Texas. “Three brothers, and their sister decided to leave Oklahoma and move to Farwell in search of a more profitable farming operation,” said Williams Family Farms Producer Mark Williams.
The duo farms is around 20,000 acres, with land in Farwell and in Dalhart. “There’s four counties here that we farm in,” said Williams Family Farms Producer Ryan Williams. “Then we have a farm up in Dalhart that my uncle and dad farm, as well.”
In the 1990’s and into the 2000’s, Mark Williams would travel to Austin and Washington D.C. to make his voice heard and to fight for cotton, which also included the 1996 Farm Bill.
Mark Williams was a past president of Plains Cotton Growers and Southwest Council of Agribusiness and a chairman for the American Cotton Producers.
“I graduated from college and moved home, my dad, he took a large role and both regionally with Plains Cotton Growers, and then National Cotton Council, said Ryan Williams. “That opened my eyes to to how important it was to have people like my dad to advocate for cotton.”
They raise 8,000 to 10,000 head of cattle a year for their wheat stocker operation and produce a variety of crops including corn, wheat, sorghum, milo and of course cotton. Cotton can be a challenging crop to produce, especially in the High Plains.
“We’ve had to cut our acres significantly just to make sure we have enough water. We’re cutting our acres of irrigated, for sure,” said Ryan Williams. “And just trying to no-till and do the things that we can do to save. There’s many things we can do to save the moisture. It’s been a it’s been a challenge.”
One technique that the father and son duo said has helped is no-till farming.
Mark Williams added, “We try to do a lot of no till farming. We’re just plowing in the residue of the previous crop to keep it from blowing.”
Despite all the challenges both have faced, they earned the Williams Family Farms the 2023 High Cotton award of the Southwest Region. According to FarmProgress, the key to Williams Family Farms production success has been variety selection, water, and timeliness.
Ryan Williams said that this award is an honor, not only for him but for his dad. “It’s his award. He’s had a rough go the last few years, but he’s very positive,” said Ryan Williams. “It meant a lot for those guys to nominate him and our family.”
Whether it’s conserving moisture, planting Phyto-gen and Deltapine varieties, or having great employees, passion and effort is what made a difference at Williams Family Farms.
“Farming is a great lifestyle. Growing cotton is a challenge, but it’s very rewarding crop,” said Ryan Williams. “One of the reasons our farm is so successful is our people. I’m big on people and the guys that work for me. I have the best people in the world, and that makes a big difference.”
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