For many years, you’ve heard me talk about the Mid-South Farm & Gin Show in Memphis, Tenn., as one of the most informative and entertaining ag events of the year. Last week’s show continued that tradition in many ways. It’s hard to believe so much can be packed into two days at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis. But that’s exactly what we encountered.
Whether it was the always entertaining Ag Update on Friday and Saturday mornings, or walking around and seeing 400 exhibits or getting a chance to see Fox Sports football announcer Terry Bradshaw hanging out at the Dow AgroSciences booth, this was quite an experience. Oh yeah, and we can’t forget about Memphis pro wrestling legend Jerry Lawler who also was mixing it up with attendees.
Even without Bradshaw and Lawler, this was still as good as any previous Gin Show I’ve attended in Memphis. For openers, there was the timeliness of the Ag Forum on Friday afternoon, which addressed irrigation efficiency as well as other topics such as weed resistance. At the Ag Updates, we heard a report from the National Cotton Council’s new chairman Wally Darneille, who is president of Plains Cotton Cooperative. We also received a marketing update from nationally known expert Richard Brock.
I was particularly encouraged as I walked around the Exhibit Hall to gauge the reaction of company representatives on the news that cotton acreage may increase in 2014. Most everyone greeted the news with excitement. Even a small increase in the Mid-South is reason for a positive outlook on the new season. The recent dip in corn prices is being credited for part of the projected increase for cotton acreage. Meanwhile, others believe that cotton continues to be an attractive option because of high performing varieties that delivered some four-bale per-acre yields in the region last year. Everywhere on the exhibit floor we saw farm families we hadn’t seen since last year’s show. Everyone was ready for a long winter to end so that fieldwork can get started back on the farm.
We even saw several booths where foreign exhibitors were showcasing their companies’ latest equipment. You name it, and you could find it at this show. This is the 62nd consecutive year for this Memphis ag event, and it has evolved into a diverse show that features information on more than just cotton. There were peanut and rice meetings as well as many opportunities to learn about corn, soybeans and wheat. Just as the Mid-South ag sector has adjusted to its new environment, so has this show.
Here’s hoping that this will be the kickoff to an excellent crop season for everyone connected to Mid-South agriculture.