Grower Spotlight

It’s a real point of pride for a family to have the designation of being a “Century Farm” – meaning they’ve been in continuous operation for a hundred years – but it’s an even more exclusive honor to become a Two Century Farm, which is a distinction Bert Pitt and his family are approaching.

“I’m the sixth generation on our farm, which was started around 1825,” Bert said. “The house where we live was completed in 1830. But it’s been updated,” he added. “My wife Gwen likes to dabble in interior decorating.”

From their modest start so long ago, the Pitts’ operation has grown to about 1000 acres in St. Lewis and Macclesfield, North Carolina, with 700 acres planted in cotton and most of the rest in sweet potatoes. The farm has also become an example of modern practices and success. In fact, Bert won an award last year for cotton production in his category by yielding an average of 1366 pounds on non-irrigated land.

“There’s a lot of respect for Bert around here,” said Mike Webb, the Pitts’ Americot representative. “He’s a real stand-up guy, and with his family history – and their beautiful home — he’s almost like someone in a storybook.” Mike added that Bert is a loyal Americot customer who’s had very good success with NexGen® varieties.

“In 2017, we tried NexGen on the recommendation of our seed dealer,” Bert began. “We planted it on a few acres and really liked it.”

Based on that first year’s results, Bert planted more NexGen acres in 2018. And then something happened to really solidify his decision: Hurricane Florence, a devastating Category 4 storm, came ashore in September that year and caused extensive damage across the Carolinas. Many growers lost their entire crops.

“Florence hit right down the road from us,” Bert recalled, “but that NexGen cotton stood up to it. We were really impressed, and just tickled that the cotton survived.”

After that unplanned test in 2018, Bert increased his NexGen acres every year, and now about 90% of his cotton is NexGen. Some of the varieties he likes are NG 3195 B3XF and NG 3299 B3XF. For the last two years, Bert has also planted NG 4936 B3XF – and that has a unique success story of its own.

“In early August of 2021, I was worried about that 4936 because the crop just didn’t look right,” he said. “I called Americot, and they sent two guys out to look at it. They checked the fields and the plants and assured me nothing was wrong and the crop was going to be fine.”

They were right. The NexGen 4936 in those fields went on to produce above-average yields.

“It was some of the best cotton we ever had,” Bert said. “The last row picked just as good as the first.”

In addition to the great yield, Bert was impressed with the responsive service Americot delivered when he needed it.

“The people you deal with are a key,” he added. “I like all the NexGen people and their service, and that’s important.”

As a sixth-generation member of his family on their land, Bert and Gwen (who have been married for 44 years) naturally wonder what the farm’s future looks like. They have one daughter whose husband is a firefighter, and Bert said his son-in-law helps around the farm when he can. The Pitts also have two grandsons who show active interest in agriculture.

“They’re involved in FFA and they’re learning about farming in school. Sometimes they even teach me a few things,” he added with a laugh.

In their spare time, Bert and Gwen enjoy going to their beach house about 100 miles away, or hosting big cookouts at their home, which also has an eight-acre fishing pond.

Finally, when asked to sum up his feelings about NexGen, Bert said, “I definitely recommend it. You’re going to like the people and the yield you get.”

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