My Turn: Bob Griffin

Motor Cooking & Other Reflections

I began scouting cotton in 1978 after my dear grandmother saw an ad in the local newspaper soliciting cotton scouts to work for the Phillips County, Ark., Cooperative Extension Service. After working there for three summers, I began managing the insecticide screening plots at the Cotton Branch Experiment Station in Marianna.

Upon graduating from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in 1984, I took the job of research specialist entomologist at the Cotton Branch Station. While employed by the station, I worked under the supervision of Dr. Jake Phillips and Dr. Phil Tugwell, both great mentors. I will never forget Dr. Tugwell telling me in order to effectively manage cotton insects you must know the cotton plant intimately and recognize the delicate relationship it shares with insects and its environment.

In 1987, I started Griffin Ag-Consulting, which I still operate today. Over the years, I have been blessed to make great friends to share thoughts with. Some who come to mind are Mr. Ray Young, Charles Denver, Marvin Wall, Jim Kimbrough and Dr. Gus Lorenz. Gus is as good of an applied entomologist as there is. I consider him a dear friend who has helped me tremendously through the years. Little did I know we would still be in close contact today after playing volleyball during lunch on the U of A campus.

Cotton consulting has really evolved over the years. I remember budworms becoming resistant to pyrethroids, the introduction of Bt cotton, Roundup Ready cotton (farming ugly), the first plant bug insecticide resistance and boll weevil eradication. I had trouble believing we could get rid of boll weevils when I used to find traps full of them in only a few days. Now, Bollgard III is about to be introduced commercially, and several herbicide-tolerant traits have also been added to the cotton plants. We have tractors that drive themselves; pickers that bale cotton; and sprayers, fertilizer applicators and planters that deliver variable-rate technology.

I really love my job even though it is hectic at times. Talking to consultant friends and praying are the only ways to keep my sanity during the heat of the battle. And most days I do not have time to go somewhere to eat so I have learned to cook on the intake manifold of my truck motor.

My truck broke down four or five years ago so I had to put it in the shop and get a rental truck. The next morning I fixed my food, wrapped it in aluminum foil, put it on the truck motor and went about my business. The shop called me about 10 or 11 to tell me my truck was ready. I quickly took the rental truck back, got my other truck and then thought about my food that afternoon. I had left it on the rental truck! I bet when the mechanic opened the hood and saw that aluminum foil, he wondered, “What in the world?” A couple of years ago, my Sunday school class even bought me a motor cookbook for Christmas titled “Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide To Cooking On Your Car Engine!”

Most of my career has been spent looking at cotton exclusively. I used to say I was just like my underwear — 100 percent cotton. I am passionate about cotton and helping my growers remain profitable. Over the years, I have worked for some of the best farmers imaginable. It is hard to believe I have three clients who are the third generation of families I have worked with.

I have been told I stress too much at times. God tells us in Colossians 3:23 that whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. I rely on God to help me through life and definitely while consulting. He alone gets credit for my successes. Many hours of prayer is my recipe for a good season.

Bob Griffin
Jonesboro, Ark.

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