By the time a bag of NexGen seed reaches you, it represents a long and complicated process, starting years earlier in the various research, breeding, and testing phases. Then eventually the seed reaches the final production steps, when it’s actually planted, harvested, ginned, cleaned, and bagged for sale.
Americot contracts with a select network of exceptional growers around the country to produce our seed, and one of the best is Ware Farms in the Dome Valley area of Arizona, near Yuma. A fifth-generation family farm, the operation is led by William Ware and his adult children, daughter Megan and son Jake.
“My dad and my grandfather started planting cotton years ago,” William explained, “and now we rotate it with produce. We also have alfalfa and Bermudagrass. We generally plant about 800 – 1200 acres, and it changes from year-to-year.”
Among those many acres over the past years have been 10 – 12 NexGen varieties, which the Wares grow for both lint and seed, as well as for our annual ACE Trials. They’ve been producing seed for Americot for several years.
After a cotton crop has been ginned, the separated seed is tested in a lab for quality, consistency, and integrity of traits. Naturally, Americot wants all NexGen products we sell to be of the highest possible quality, so the seed has to meet strict requirements.
“We always get good seed from the Wares,” said Max McGuire, Field Production Supervisor at West Gaines Seed in Eloy, Arizona. West Gaines Seed is the processing facility that evaluates the crop and then bags the approved seed for Americot commercial sales.
“The Wares really know how to care for their cotton crops,” added Max. “They make sure that everything gets done right.”
“They’re some of our best growers,” agreed Karen Geldmacher, the Americot germplasm specialist in Arizona who has worked with the Wares for more than four years. “They’ve dedicated themselves to advancing our brand.” The Ware family is clearly committed to producing superior seed for Americot, and because the area around Yuma is ideal for growing cotton, they can choose to plant a wide range of varieties with different maturities.
“We start with the early-to-mid-maturity varieties in February or March, so we can follow that crop with produce,” William said, “but planting that early means we’re dealing with borderline temperatures.”
“We aim for mid-February,” added Jake, “but our rule is that we don’t plant if we have to wear gloves.”
By planting several different varieties, the Wares can stagger their harvesting schedule, with the first crops normally being picked in August or early September.
In addition to managing their own cotton, the Wares operate a custom-harvesting business for other farms in the area, using four big John Deere harvesters.
“There are about 12,000 acres of cotton in Yuma County,” Jake said, “and we pick about 6,000 of them.” “It’s two straight months of brutal work,” added William.
Between the harvesting business and the year-round crop production on their own farms, the Wares maintain a full-time staff of 13 employees.
“We like being able to keep people going all year, especially since most of them are friends or family,” said William with a bit of a laugh. “We’re fortunate to have so many good people around us, and we love working with Karen.”
Yet regardless of the many staffing needs, it’s still a family farm in every sense. William’s daughter Megan has been actively involved in daily operations for the past year, following the sad passing of her mother, Heather. Mrs. Ware had been a vital part of the business, and Megan has now seamlessly picked up those responsibilities.
“Megan really stepped up for us after I lost my wife last year,” said William. “And we’re lucky that she and Jake and I think alike.”
“It’s brought us closer as a family,” Megan said. “We make decisions together, and we’ve learned a lot about each other.” Megan now has two young children of her own, so the sixth generation of the Ware family is already underway.
“It’s a bonus for the Wares to produce high-quality seed for NexGen, so they want value-added varieties that perform well,” said Karen. “Some of their favorites are NG 3406 B2XF for the shorter maturity, and NG 4936 B3XF and NG 5711 B3XF for longer seasons.”
“When choosing varieties, we look for seed size and vigor,” said William. “We want that push power for strong germination. We also really like the traits and technology in NexGen seed.”
Out of all the NexGen varieties the Wares have planted, perhaps the biggest success they’ve had has been with NG 5711 B3XF. “We typically get five bales out of the 5711,” said William. “We made 5.4 bales in 2019, 5.5 in 2020, and 5.4 again last year.” “He’s a rock star with that one!” said Karen enthusiastically.
“NG 5150 B3XF was another big hit for us,” agreed Jake, who makes most of the decisions about what to plant. “It blew the doors off on yield. We also had really good luck with 4936 B3XF, on a lot of different soil types and elevations. We’re beyond happy with NexGen. They’ve got seed for every situation.”
Americot is grateful and honored to be partners with the Wares for their outstanding seed production, and every grower who buys NexGen varieties is a beneficiary of the extra effort and commitment that our production operations deliver.
“It’s a lot to do,” said William in conclusion, “but I still look forward to going to work every day.”