Ken Legé doesn’t have a lot of free time on his hands these days. As the recently hired director of technical services for Americot, Legé has had to hit the ground running since he started with the company in early March.
Legé’s hire marks the second year in a row that the company has added staff heading into the planting season. An impressive new office building just south of Lubbock serves as further evidence of the company’s success – and subsequent growth – in recent years.
Company representatives say that growth can be attributed to the success of high performing varieties that are creating a reputation for themselves not only on the High Plains, but throughout the Cotton Belt as well.
“With the pipeline expanding the way it is, Americot is a fun place to be right now,” says Legé.
Of course, that “fun” has created a massive workload that Legé is tasked with accomplishing. Namely, he says, he’ll set about the meticulous task of entering Americot and NexGen varieties into independent trials across the Cotton Belt, and then gathering and quantifying all the data which results from those trials.
“This position didn’t exist before, so this is an expansion into a whole new role for Americot,” says Legé. “Before, our breeding staff was providing information directly to sales. Now the pipeline has expanded such that the cotton breeders need to breed cotton instead of supporting sales directly. So that will be part of my job, supporting sales, and then taking a lot of the university testing coordination off of others and on to me.”
The company is growing into new geographic markets as it expands its employee base at home on the High Plains. In many ways, the success of NG 1511 B2RF has spurred the company’s growth into new geographic markets. Legé estimates that roughly 90 percent of the company’s business is on the High Plains, but major strides have been made to advance into other areas of the Cotton Belt.
“NG 1511 B2RF has definitely been the variety that has brought us into the Mid-South and the Southeast,” says Legé. “We’ve found it to be a lot more widely adapted than what was originally thought. It’s had good performance all the way from Arizona on through Virginia. It’s getting a lot of attention – we’ve gotten a lot of orders for it.”
While NG 1511 B2RF is an early- to mid-maturing variety, Americot representatives believe they’ve found a full-maturing variety that can achieve equal levels of success across the Belt in NG 5315 B2RF. Legé says it has performed exceptionally well in the southern reaches of the Mid-South and Southeast regions.
“We see potential to expand, even despite the acreage decrease in much of the Cotton Belt,” says Legé. “We think we can get some market share increase with those two varieties. Certainly the NG 5315 – the full-season variety – will help us really expand into Georgia.”
Legé says that the success of existing varieties is only partly responsible for the creation of his new position with Americot. A major factor that brought him to Americot is the expansion of the variety pipeline at his new company.
“Our breeding program is now maturing into one that is going to be bringing a lot of new things to choose from, and of course that means better products down the line,” says Legé. “So we actually have to create a more comprehensive variety advancement plan to handle the bulk of the things coming down the pipeline.”