As Altus celebrates Farm City Week, local farmers work to bring in cotton harvests from across Jackson County.
On Oct. 3, farm tours were open to producers throughout the county. Cotton tours in September gave the public the opportunity to get a firsthand look at the lives and experiences of those in the farming community. From plowing to planting, harvesting to baling, the work and dedication of these men, women, and families add greatly to the economic growth of Jackson County.
Altus began as a settlement for cattlemen seeking shorter routes to markets in the northern part of the United States. The Great Western Trail running near present-day Altus provided such a route. Originally located on Bitter Creek, Altus, then known as Frazer, boasted a small settlement of about 50 people.
Since then, Altus has been home to cattle ranchers, wheat and cotton farmers, and families dedicated to preserving the agricultural way of life.
While public tours were being held, local farmers have been busy bringing in the harvest. David Hawthorne of Altus Sand and Gravel was the first farmer to bring in a cotton harvest to Humphreys Co-Op, one of several cotton processing gins in the area.
This time of year, crops are harvested before wetter weather comes to damage or ruin the quality and yield.
Cotton planting and harvesting in Oklahoma is primarily done in the southwest part of the state, with some acreage found in north-central Oklahoma.
According to Oklahoma Farm Bureau, more than half of the cotton baled across the United States goes to make fabric for clothing.
Farmers around Jackson County provide one of the best-selling fibers in the United States along with cottonseed that is pressed for oil and hulls that are used for livestock feed.
Fields of cotton boles blooming in neatly planned rows can be found along the outskirts of Altus in every direction. Though not every Jackson County resident is directly involved in farming, it is undoubtedly a large part of the culture, economy, and history of Altus and the surrounding communities.
Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.