J.C. Banks was one of my first Southwest Farm Press interviews, several years before I moved to Texas to become editor. I was “between assignments” at the time and working across several regions.
Our long-time editor, Calvin Pigg, set me up with an interview with J.C., and J.C. set up several farmers to visit around Altus, Okla., where he served as state cotton specialist and resident director of the OSU Experiment Station.
I was saddened to learn of his passing in late December. He was 72.
I will remember J.C. as an avid supporter of agriculture, particularly of the advantages of no-till cotton production. On several occasions he drove me to research plots or farmer fields to demonstrate the advantage of having old crop residue or a cover crop in place to protect seedling cotton from sand, hail and other storm damage. The difference was stark.
I also fondly remember those pickup rides across southwest Oklahoma, visiting farms and chatting about farmers, bird dogs, trout fishing and Hank the Farm Dog.
He showed me his blacksmith shop and we talked about how that skill has changed since my grandfather’s day, when he ran a small shop in South Carolina. J.C.’s setup was fairly high-tech.
Farmer visits proved the depth of respect folks had for J.C. His recommendations found eager ears. He was widely respected as a good scientist and a knowledgeable Extension specialist, not just in Oklahoma but across the Cotton Belt. He was a fixture at the National Cotton Council’s annual Beltwide Cotton Conferences.
He was named “Consultant of the Year,” by Ag Consultant Magazine. He was also honored at the Beltwide Cotton Conference in 1998 as “Cotton Specialist of the Year.”
He preferred to put the spotlight on the farmers he worked with. J.C. helped identify Oklahoma cotton farmers who deserved recognition and was responsible for helping select several Farm Press/Cotton Foundation High Cotton Award winners.
Anytime I asked J.C. to help me locate a good farmer for an interview, he responded quickly and usually volunteered to drive me to their place, make introductions and smooth the way for me to do my job.
He proved a valuable source of information, himself, willing to weigh in on cotton technology, weather issues and farm bill politics.
He retired a decade or so back and moved to Creede, Colo., where he intended to spend time catching trout. He invited to come and fish with him. I regret that I did not.
J.C. was a valued resource, a reliable guide and good friend. He will be missed by many.
A service of remembrance will be held at Creede Baptist Church Feb. 16, 2019, at 10 a.m. The family requests in lieu of flowers, to consider a donation in J.C.’s memory to Creede Baptist Church, 600 La Garita St, Creede, CO 81130.