One of my favorite trips of the year is about to occur, and it promises to be just as rewarding as the previous ones of the past decade. It’s the Cotton Farming staff’s annual trek to Lubbock, Texas, for the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association Annual Meeting and Trade Show. For more than 20 years, our magazine has co-sponsored this show, and to say that it has been a rewarding experience doesn’t really say it all.
Through the years, we have cultivated many friends in the country’s No. 1 cotton production state. Whether it’s producers, ginners, equipment manufacturers or friends of the industry. What makes this trip so rewarding is that we also get to attend the Plains Cotton Growers’ annual meeting, which is conducted on Friday, April 10, at the Lubbock Civic Center. It’s a jam-packed two days at the trade show, plus meetings in the Civic Center as well as the Overton Hotel just five minutes away.
It seems that the Texas cotton industry has had to deal with a different kind of issue every year, but this group of farmers and ginners always finds a way to survive the crisis. For the past three years, a persistent drought has created the biggest challenge of all. But, as many had predicted, the drought seems to have subsided, and steady rainfall patterns have moved through all parts of the state in the last two or three months.
So, even though nobody is excited about current cotton prices, which continue to languish in the low 60-cent range, Texas farmers and ginners always like to look on the bright side. At least, the cotton crop can be planted into soil that has a full moisture profile. And that means there is a chance that yields can be above average if the weather will somehow cooperate for the rest of the season.
Texas cotton industry folks are a special group. They know how to deal with adversity, and they are relentless in their pursuit of survival. Even in the midst of the drought, they persevered with a steely determination that has to be seen to be appreciated. Talk about always seeing the glass as half full. That’s the attitude you’ll find in this state.
What makes Texas cotton producers and ginners even more special is their thoughtfulness. When you walk into a crowded room at meetings, they aren’t shy about introducing themselves to anyone. They redefine the word congeniality. Our staff looks forward to renewing friendships and swapping a lot of fun stories with this crowd.
Perhaps the perfect example of this state’s hospitality occurred recently when retired producer/ginner Myrl Mitchell faxed a handwritten thank-you note to me. He doesn’t have a computer or fax machine at his home, so he drove to the nearest gin and asked somebody there to fax the note to the Cotton Farming office in Memphis. It’s hard to express what that note meant to our staff. But that’s how Texas folks are. They do whatever it takes to get the job done – even if it means faxing a hand-written thank-you note.