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Turnout for 2013 UT Cotton Tour is pleasant surprise

Organizers of the 2013 UT Cotton Tour were hoping they would get a crowd somewhere close to last year’s attendance of 100. So when 170 farmers and industry representatives registered for the event in Jackson, Tenn., Sept. 4, they were pleased. The University of Tennessee’s Larry Steckel talked about the field day in this interview.

As Steckel noted, cotton acres are down across the Mid-South due to high corn prices and less than favorable weather conditions at planting last spring.

Darrin Dodds, Extension cotton specialist at Mississippi State University, told the audience he had hoped more cotton would be planted in his state when corn seeding was delayed last spring. But the cold temperatures and rain continued into the traditional cotton planting window and many of those acres went into soybeans.

Dodds participated in the field tour because the University of Tennessee is currently without a cotton specialist. Steckel and Scott Stewart, Extension entomologist with the university, are currently filling that role.

Steckel, Stewart and Bob Hayes, resident director of the West Tennessee Ag Research and Education Center in Jackson, organized the tour.

“Bob thought we might do well to have 80 attendees given the current economic situation for cotton,” said Steckel. “So when we had 150 to 160 folks come in, we were ecstatic.” (The final registration was 170.) “Maybe the reports of the demise of cotton have been exaggerated.”

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