To Those Who Served Farmers
⋅ BY CARROLL SMITH ⋅
Their day typically begins before sunrise as they roll out of bed, pull on their boots and head to the fields. Their trucks are full of tools of the trade — cell phones, laptops, notebooks, sweep nets, drop cloths and maybe a pack of Nabs or a protein bar to sustain them on the turnrows while they check your crops throughout the long, hot days. These are cotton consultants — most of whom will say their profession is more than a job. It’s personal.
Since 1981, the Cotton Consultant of the Year peer recognition award, sponsored by Syngenta and Cotton Farming magazine, has paid tribute to this critical segment of the cotton industry. Through the years, we have been saddened to hear of the passing of some of these individuals whose careers were marked by commitment to farmers, early mornings and busy days.
This summer, Mills Rogers Jr., who was selected as the Cotton Consultant of the Year in 1990, passed away July 12. He started Rogers Entomological Services in Cleveland, Mississippi, in 1954 for 75 cents an acre and ran it until he retired in the late 1990s. His son, Lee Rogers, took over the family business at that time.
According to a 1991 tribute written by Cotton Farming Editor Patrick Shepard, “Rogers normally services from 35 to 40 cotton producers. About 60 percent of the cotton that he handles is farmed in the Missouri Bootheel. … Five years ago, Rogers began using motorcycles to get around his cotton acreage. ‘At first, I laughed when other consultants began using motorcycles. But I saw they were checking a little more acreage than I was and they weren’t worn out at the end of the day. So we added Honda 200 Fat Cats to our business.’”
In another tribute published that year, Rogers was asked, “You are a pioneer of the modern cotton consultant. Would you recommend consulting as a livelihood to a younger person?”
He answered, “Yes, if he or she doesn’t mind hard work in addition to being trustworthy. When the grower asks him if he walked the back of that field next to the trees, the consultant will have to be ready to tell the truth. The grower usually knows where you’ve been on his farm.
“I think we have both professional entomologists and scouts in the consulting business. Those of us who make a living out of consulting and depend on six to seven months of the year have to always assume a professional manner.”
The working relationship between a consultant and his farmers is based, in large part, on mutual respect and trust. Thanks go out to those we have lost and those who are still watching the cotton fields and making recommendations to keep their producers profitable.
• Bob Stanford: 1981 CCOY – Flagstaff, Arizona
• Jep Gates: 1982 CCOY – Memphis, Tennessee
• Dennis Bouchard: 1983 CCOY – Minter City, Mississippi
• John Nickelsen: 1984 CCOY – Shafter, California
• Stanley Nemec: 1987 CCOY – Snook, Texas
• Robert Moore: 1988 CCOY – Hartsville, South Carolina
• Curtis Wilhelm: 1989 CCOY – Harlingen, Texas
• Mills Rogers: 1990 CCOY – Cleveland, Mississippi
• John Christian: 1992 CCOY – Raymondville, Texas
• Lonnie Bull: 1997 CCOY – Cameron, South Carolina
• John Hunter: 2005 CCOY – Lubbock, Texas