Cotton growing is essential in pandemic

Homegrown cotton is used for bandannas, clothing

A Yukon cotton-producing family pictured from left to right includes, Ryan, Kaden and Autumn Kouba, Brooke, Billy, Kaylee, Tania and Emily Endsley, RaDonna and Keith Kouba, Gage, Crystal and Shawn Goff. (Photo provided)


A few days ago, Yukon cotton farmer Keith Kouba was looking at cotton bandannas made in China, and he compared them to those made in the United States.

Kouba, 64, said it seems some of the bandannas made in China, that are made from American-grown cotton, are thinner than some brands of bandannas made in the United States.

More and more people are turning to the bandanna for a face mask these days.

“If you have on a bandanna and you can blow through it and blow out a lighter then they say they are not working very good. They are too thin,” Kouba said.

It might take two bandannas made in China, instead of one, to use to cover the face, he said.

Cotton, he said, has been his big money-maker in recent years. However, even before the pandemic, the trade war with China affected prices. And the pandemic made it worse.

Keith Kouba’s cotton field in Yukon was profitable last fall. (Photo provided)

But on about 300 acres in and around Yukon, Kouba is ready to start planting cotton again this year.

Cotton, and cotton-farming, is essential.

He will plant soybeans as well as cotton in a couple of weeks. “I’m not going to go crazy on cotton,” Kouba said, whose Czech heritage runs deep in Yukon.

RaDonna and Keith Kouba stand in their Yukon field of cotton. (Photo provided)

He farms cotton on land from fields near Sara Road on the east side of Yukon to fields near 10th Street and Cemetery Road, and as far south as Union City.

Once the ground temperature is 60 degrees or above he will start planting cotton. The temperature needs to be above 60 to be warm enough for proper seed germination, he said.

“Cotton has really been my money-maker and wheat has been pretty sorry lately,” Kouba said.

Kouba has also worked as a Yukon firefighter before going into farming full-time.

Cotton has grown well in Canadian County, he said, and seeds have been improved in recent years to help the efforts, he said.