Sunday, May 26, 2024

Walking In Heaven’s High Cotton

ray young
Ray Young

Mr. Ray Young is walking in Heaven’s high cotton now, leaving the rest of us still here to mourn his loss. He dearly loved his wife, Dorothy, and all his kids and their progeny. And Ray reveled in growing and consulting on cotton during the countless hours he walked the fields.

I remember being out in the field with him in Franklin Parish, Louisiana, looking at a no-till field one spring. As a young ag journalist, I had heard of no-till but never actually laid eyes on it until Ray showed it to me that day and explained what all the hoopla was about.

In 1996, Ray was selected by his peers as Cotton Consultant of the Year, a prestigious award program sponsored by Syngenta and Cotton Farming magazine for more than 40 years. Twelve years later, he was honored with the CCOY Lifetime Achievement Award.

In July 2017, Dorothy wrote a My Turn column titled “A Consultant’s Wife” in which she shared some memories of how Ray got started in the cotton consulting business. Following is an excerpt from her story:

Ray began checking cotton in 1949 as a college student. After we married in 1952 and he served in the Navy for two more years, Ray set up a consulting business and started knocking on doors. Franklin Parish was the largest “cotton patch” in Louisiana so that’s where we went. We moved to Wisner because his first customer lived there. … Since we lived in a little, bitty town, there was no such thing as rooms to rent or places to eat so we gave room and board to all of our cotton checkers. We had rooms, a couch and my mama had a trailer behind our house so we had places to put them up. We later bought a “crew house” to accommodate everyone.

Between his junior and senior year in high school, crop consultant Grady Coburn, who now resides in Cheneyville, Louisiana, went to work for Ray.

I worked eight summers as a field scout for Ray. By the time I left, I was a certified consultant. When I think of mentors, Ray is at the top of the list.

In addition to being a top-tier consultant, Ray had a reputation in the agriculture world as the go-to guy who knew almost everyone in the industry and, in his unassuming way, knew how to get things done.

Texas consultant James Todd expressed it this way:

If I had a question or needed help with something either in the field or in Washington, D.C., I would call my friend in Louisiana, Mr. Ray Young. That man would get on the phone and get to the bottom of things. If he didn’t know the answer, he knew where to find it.

The stories and memories of Ray Young can go on forever. He was truly an icon in the cotton industry, and he will be missed.

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