Missouri cotton farmer seeks never to quit.

Pigweed is a nuisance. The weed has been so since it gained resistance to glyphosate, an herbicide sprayed on crops to wipe out weeds.

When Charles Parker, a Missouri cotton farmer and chairman of the board for the National Cotton Council, sees stray pigweed, he grabs the chop hoe stored in his truck and eliminates the threat. Parker originally bought 60 acres in Missouri’s Bootheel near Senath in 1964. Now, Parker and Jones Farms spans about 4500 acres.

“I grew up on a farm,” Parker said. “Back then, we picked cotton by hand.”

After graduating college, Parker worked as an accountant. The job lasted only a year. He always wanted to farm and did so once the chance arrived.

“It’s hard for young farmers to get started unless they have a family connection,” Parker said. “And of course, I had a family connection, so that’s how I got started.”

With about $5 million invested in heavy equipment alone, Parker witnesses plenty of startup Bootheel cotton farms being forced to shut down.

“People ask me when I’ll retire,” Parker said. “And I ask them: Why would I want to retire?”

By: John McLaughlin
Edited by: Joe Pecoraro


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