Saturday, May 18, 2024

Blue Skies And White Cotton

By Tucker Miller
Drew, Miss.

After reading my good friend Roger Carter’s memorable “My Turn” column, I realize how fortunate I am to be in the consultant profession. I was lucky enough to work for a man named Mike Sturdivant, who was the most optimistic farmer around – a man who passed on this same attitude to his sons who are continuing his legacy. My father, H.T. Miller Jr., was also like this. The glass was always half full and not half empty.

Another farmer named Charles Walker from Marks, Miss., also has made an impact on my life. Charles is the only farmer who has ever given me a bonus after the season was over. He was so proud when my daughter was named homecoming queen in 2004 at Mississippi State University that he bought her dress for the occasion.

As I think back on my 44 years of consulting, I realize my cup has always been half full and never half empty. I remember as a youngster how much I loved to ride on the picker and haul cotton to the gin. Just last week I rode on a six-row picker with Lewis “Big Money” Young. As we were harvesting variety trials on John Moor’s farm near Greenwood, Miss., we talked a lot about the past as we picked many three-bale cotton plots. Really, how cool is that?

There are many other memories that are very humorous, too many to recollect. I can remember stopping a ski lift as it made the turn, and I got hung underneath the chair. Ask Roger Carter how I got the nickname “Goose” at a meeting at the Chesapeake Bay. The entire trip I was curious as to why the umbrellas were outside each cabin. As I was about to get into the limo that was taking us back to the airport, a flock of geese flying above let me know loud and clear exactly why the umbrellas were there.

I remember my son Herbert checking cotton with us when he was very young. He was only seven or eight years old, and we put him out where there was a known aphid infestation. When he came back out, he had a very serious look on his face and a handful of cotton plants as he exclaimed, “Daddy, you got aphids, and you got’em bad!”

I have also been fortunate to see and work with second and third-generation farmers such as David Taylor of Como, Miss., Bill Walker of Marks, Miss., and Nolan Howard of Greenwood, Miss. I have watched them grow to become successful producers and leaders in their professions and communities.

I have dealt with all kinds of insect, weed and disease resistance issues. I am certain that we will survive these threats. We have some of the best researchers right here in Mississippi. Just to name a few, you have to include Angus Catchot, Darrin Dodds, Jeff Gore, Jason Bond and Tom Allen. These research and Extension guys have been and continue to be invaluable sources of information for consultants and farmers in our state.

I can also recall many fond memories of industry reps whom I have dealt with over the years. I used to give James Lowe some ducks out of my freezer when he would come by the house. He would always trade quail for the ducks, and I always felt I got the best end of the deal. I really owe a debt of gratitude to all of my industry friends who have supported me and our consultants’ association over the years.

The Lord has truly blessed me in this journey. Without the support of my wife Ruth, I would have never made it this far. My son Herbert and daughter Emily have also been a huge support to me in this consulting profession. I guess what I am saying is that I am optimistic about the future of consulting and agriculture, in general. I am looking forward to many, many more years of doing what I love and seeing more blue skies and white cotton.

– Tucker Miller, Drew, Miss.

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