December 6, 2022
As we head into winter, Delta Farm Press is also heading into the home stretch of putting together an essential resource for farmers in the Delta region: the Delta Agricultural Digest, or “DAD,” as we fondly refer to it. The Digest is published annually in February, but the updating of the more-than-200-page compendium begins months before.
Work on the Digest stretches through the fall as our team of more than two dozen Extension agents and ag professors update their respective sections on cotton, corn, grain sorghum, rice, soybean and wheat.
This is my first year editing the digest, and I can attest to the concerted effort put into this publication. But perhaps the best perspectives of this process come from two former Delta Farm Press and Digest editors who have a combined 35 years experience of putting this key resource together.
Former Delta Farm Press Editor Forrest Laws spent at least 20 years overseeing the updating of DAD. Farm Press has been publishing it since 1984, but its history goes back many years before that, he said.
Laws quickly learned how much farmers look forward to receiving their annual issue. During his frequent farm visits, he gained an appreciation of just how much farmers rely on the Digest.
“I got in very few pickup trucks that didn’t have a tattered copy of the Digest in them.”
Laws also remembers the time he was interviewing some farmers in South Louisiana who had started growing cotton again for the first time in decades.
“I was sitting in one of the guys’ offices when he reached in his desk and pulled out a book. ‘Everything I know about growing cotton I learned in this book,’ he said. It was a copy of the Digest.”
Elton Robinson handled editing of the Digest for 15 years, up until this year, and he still provides his expertise.
“Editing the Digest for 15 years was a tedious yet rewarding process which often found me and capable assistant Sandy Perry working holidays and beyond,” Robinson said. “It was such a relief for us when we finally got everything wrapped up and sent to the printer in late January.
“The big reveal occurred in late February or early March when the publication, fresh from the printer, showed up at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show and farmers lined up to get their new Digests just in time for the coming season.”
Robinson noted that there may one day be a digital edition of the Digest and maybe an app for it as more farmers raised on digital tools enter the profession.
“Still, there’s nothing like a dog-eared Digest sitting on the dash of a pickup truck for easy reference,” he said.
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