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Articles from 2005 In January


National Cotton Ginners name McClendon president for 2005

WASHINGTON, DC – Larry McClendon, president of McClendon, Mann & Felton Gin in Marianna, Aek., is the 2005-06 president of the Memphis, Tenn.-based National Cotton Ginners Association. He was installed here today at the NCGA’s annual meeting in Washington.

McClendon, who served as NCGA first vice president in 2004, has been farming since the 1970s and ginning since 1989. He has served on several NCGA committees and served as a director of the National Cotton Council and Cotton Council International in 2004. The University of Arkansas graduate also was NCGA’s 2003 Horace Hayden Cotton Ginner of the Year.

Other NCGA officers elected include: first vice president, Russell Kuhnhenn, Buckeye, Ariz.; second vice president, Van Murphy, Quitman, Ga.; and third vice-president, Chris Breedlove, Olton, Texas. Outgoing president Sid Brough, Edroy, Texas, now serves as board chairman, and Bill Norman, Memphis, Tenn., is executive vice president.

Michael Hooper, manager of Farmers Cooperative Gin in Buttonwillow, Calif., was named the 2004 Horace Hayden National Cotton Ginner of the Year. This NCGA Award is given to those individuals who have provided a career of distinguished service to the U.S. ginning industry.

Hooper’s nomination letter stated that “he manages one of the premier ginning operations in California, providing both upland saw ginning and Pima roller ginning.” It also states that he “handles his operations and customers with a high degree of professionalism, performance and quality control. Under his leadership, Farmers Cooperative Gin keeps pace with the needs and the demands of his customers.”

Hooper began his career with Calcot, Ltd. He then joined Cottonwillow, a family owned business, and later went to Farmers Coop Gin as assistant manager in 1988. In 1990, he was promoted to his present position. He is a past president of the California Association of Grower-Owned Gins and is a director and first vice chairman of the California Cotton Ginners Association.

He has been active in many capacities with NCGA, having served as its president in 2002-2003. He also was California Cotton Ginners Cotton Ginner of the Year in 1999.

Hooper received an Associate of Arts degree from the College of the Sequoias and a bachelor’s degree from California State University, Bakersfield. He also is a Calcot Classing and Marketing School graduate.

The NCGA’s 2004 Distinguished Service Award recipient is Dr. Alan D. Brashears, who has served as research leader for the Cotton Production and Processing Research Unit of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Lubbock since 2002.

The agricultural engineer led research that resulted in modifications to commercial cotton strippers that reduced: 1) foreign matter in seed cotton and 2) the number of lint grades being reduced due to bark. He participated in work that demonstrated that the effect of grade reductions due to excess bark in lint did not accurately reflect the effect on yarn spinning during textile processing.

He also has been involved in projects that demonstrate the effects of defoliation and desiccation on harvesting, field storage and ginning of stripper cotton.

An adjunct professor in Texas Tech University’s Soil and Crop Sciences Department, Brashears has authored or coauthored more than 137 publications and abstracts. His body of research has been a significant influence on the regions growing stripper-harvested cotton. He also has served on several NCGA committees and been a key reason its ginning schools have been successful.

“Alan has never found a problem that couldn’t be solved,” NCGA Executive Director Bill Norman said. “His ‘can do’ attitude is a major reason he has enjoyed a successful career. Whether in a lead role or as a worker bee, he has always demonstrated his ability to be a true team player.”

Brashears earned bachelors and masters degrees in Agricultural Engineering from Texas A&M University and his Ph.D. in Engineering from Texas Tech University. He began his career in 1961 as a research assistant at Texas A&M, then joined USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service in College Station, Texas, as an agricultural engineer. In 1962, he joined USDA’s Agricultural Research Service in Albany, GA, before returning to take an agricultural engineer post with USDA-ARS in Lubbock.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com

Northern Blacklands growers vote for eradication

AUSTIN, Texas – Boll weevils in Texas have nowhere left to hide.

Cotton farmers and landowners in the Northern Blacklands Zone put the final piece of the eradication puzzle in place with an affirmative vote in a January referendum.

Texas Department of Agriculture officials in Austin tallied ballots Jan. 28 that show 370 growers or landowners in the zone, which stretches from the Northeast corner of the state into Central Texas, approved the referendum with only 69 voting no. TDA officials report 438 valid ballots postmarked by the cutoff date, Jan. 21. TDA mailed out 855 ballots.

Steve Beakley, a grower from Ellis County, was elected to represent the Northern Blacklands Zone on the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, Inc., board of directors.

Voters also determined that assessment fees will not exceed $13.25 per land acre.

Texas Extension IPM agent Glen Moore, who works from the Waxahatchie office, says the vote indicated 85 percent approval. Affirmative votes represent 63 percent of the cotton acreage included in the Zone.

Eradication efforts will begin with diapause treatments next fall, says Lindy Patton, executive director of the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation. “But we have a lot of work to do before then. We’ll start right away hiring people, locating an office and getting ready.

“This was a tremendous vote for the Northern Blacklands Zone,” he says. “Growers did a great job of getting this referendum passed. They really pulled together to get the job done.”

Patton says the affirmative vote not only puts the last Texas zone into the program but means the entire Cotton Belt is now actively involved in the eradication effort.

Texas Commissioner of Agriculture Susan Combs also expressed her pleasure at getting the last zone included in the program and pledged the department’s support.

“We will work closely with growers and the Foundation to eradicate this devastating pest from Texas cotton fields,” Combs said.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com

Woods Eastland to lead cotton industry in 2005-06

WASHINGTON – Woods Eastland, a Mississippi cotton producer and marketing cooperative executive, will lead the National Cotton Council through what promises to be a tumultuous year in 2005-06.

Eastland, president and CEO of Greenwood, Miss.-based Staplcotn Cooperative Association and Staplcotn Discount Corp., was elected chairman of the NCC at its annual meeting in Washington after serving as its vice chairman in 2004-05.

Allen B. Helms Jr., a cotton and corn farmer from Clarkedale, Ark., was elected vice chairman of the NCC and will be in line to succeed Eastland. Woody Anderson, producer from Colorado City, Texas, moves up from chairman to chairman of the NCC’s executive committee.

Eastland, a resident of Doddsville, Miss., has served as the head of the Staplcotn organization since 1986, helping build it into one of the largest marketing cooperatives in the South. He owns and operates a cotton, soybean and rice farm in Sunflower County, Miss.

He also serves as vice president and director of AMCOT and is a director of the Delta Council, Mississippi Chemical Corp., and The Seam, LLC. He is past president and chairman of Cotton Council International, a past member of the New York Cotton Exchange’s Board of Managers, a past director of the Memphis Branch Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and a former member of the New York Board of Trade’s Board of Governors.

As Eastland begins his term as chairman, the NCC is continuing to deal with the government of Brazil’s World Trade Organization complaint against the U.S. cotton program, the expiration of textile and apparel quotas and their impact on the U.S. textile industry and the beginning of hearings on the 2007 farm, which are expected to begin this fall.

Eastland holds a B.A. degree from Vanderbilt University, and a J.D. degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law. He is a licensed lay reader in the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi. He and his wife, Lynn, have two children and one grandchild.

Helms, who served as NCC treasurer in 2004 and is a former chairman of the American Cotton Producers, will serve as NCC vice chairman.

Re-elected as NCC vice presidents were: Charles Owen, a Pima, Ariz., ginner; Gail Kring, a Lubbock, Texas, crusher; Fred Underwood, a Lubbock, Texas, warehouseman; Robert Weil, II, a Montgomery, Ala., merchant; and G. Stephen Felker, a Monroe, Ga., textile manufacturer. Craig Shook, a Corpus Christi, Texas, producer, was elected secretary-treasurer.

Re-elected NCC staff officers were: Mark Lange, NCC president and chief executive officer; Gary Adams, vice president, economics and policy analysis; Craig Brown, vice president, producer affairs; Fred Johnson, vice president, administration and program coordination; Andy Jordan, vice president, technical services; and Bill M. Norman, vice president, ginner services; all of Memphis; John Maguire, senior vice president, Washington operations; and Allen Terhaar, vice president, foreign operations; both in Washington, DC.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com

Double coverage

A new soybean seed treatment called CruiserMaxx Pak is now available on NK Brand soybeans. Developed by Syngenta, CruiserMaxx Pak is a commercially applied combination of two separately registered products, Cruiser insecticide and ApronMaxx brand fungicide. The new combination protects seed from insects such as bean leaf beetle and soybean aphid, plus all major seed- and soil-borne diseases. NK Brand soybeans treated with CruiserMaxx Pak are available in bags, Convenience Paks and Q-Bit containers through local NK Brand dealers.

Brazilian fungicide

A fungicide used to control soybean rust in Brazil will be brought to the U.S. by Valent after the product receives approval from EPA. Valent USA Corp. reached an agreement with the fungicide’s manufacturer, Isagro SpA, to market the fungicide called Domark in the U.S. The active ingredient in Domark is tetraconazole, which offers preventative and curative activity to control soybean rust, according to Valent. For more information about Domark, contact Valent at 800/682-5368 or visit www.valent.com. For information about Isagro SpA, an agricultural chemical company based in Italy, visit www.isagro.com.

Rust fungicide approved

Another fungicide received the EPA Section 18 quarantine exemption for treatment of Asian soybean rust on soybeans. Stratego by Bayer CropScience was approved for use in Minnesota and South Dakota. Other soybean-producing states are expected to grant approvals soon.

Stratego is a fungicide premix for residual control against diseases. Two active ingredients, propiconazole and trifloxystrobin, work to inhibit spore germination on the plant surface and fungal growth within plant tissues. Bayer says the product is most effective against soybean rust when applied as a preventive measure.

Resistant ragweed

Monsanto recently announced that a common ragweed in one field in central Missouri is resistant to glyposate. Monsanto reported that the resistant determination was made jointly by the company and University of Missouri weed scientist Reid Smeda. The resistant ragweed was confined to a 20-acre section of the field, according to the Monsanto news release. Common ragweed now joins some biotypes of marestail and ryegrass shown to be resistant to glyphosate. Monsanto points out that these resistant cases are managed with tank mixes, which is the suggested treatment for common ragweed. The company recommends tank mixing FlexStar or Phoenix herbicides with Roundup for post-emergence applictions in soybeans to treat resistant ragweed. Another option is Valor or Scepter for soil applied programs. In corn, herbicides such as triazines and growth regulators may be added to the herbicide program.

Machine inspection helps measure rice quality

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - A machine inspection system under development at the University of Arkansas (UA) Division of Agriculture can peer through intact hulls to inspect individual rice kernels for damage.

"This is primarily of value for rice breeders and physiologists," says Carl Griffis, professor of biological and agricultural engineering. "They look for traits like resistance to insects and diseases. Current evaluation techniques require removing the hulls for visual inspection of the grain. Those kernels, then, are more difficult to plant to produce the next generation of a breeding line."

Building on the machine vision groundwork of former UA engineer Yang Tao, Griffis and graduate student, Amber Gosnell, are developing a system that can inspect individual rough rice kernels and separate damaged from undamaged. "Yang Tao had an idea to make video images of rice kernels back-lighted with a strong light source," says Griffis. "He demonstrated that damage from disease or insects causes blackened areas on the grains that show up as darkened areas in the images."

A computer program processes those images and predicts damage. Griffis says visual examination of machine-inspected rice shows a high correlation of accuracy. "The machine system is predicting damage with better than 80 percent accuracy. We're working on ways to improve that percentage."

One means of improving accuracy is to add a second camera. Gosnell's research has shown that making two images of each kernel, one each from top and bottom, increases the accuracy.

Other improvements being added to the system include a device that can feed individual kernels onto a transport system that moves them past the cameras one at a time, and a system that uses a puff of air to move damaged and undamaged kernels into separate bins. Improved software will permit "point-and-click" operation of the system.

Karen Moldenhauer, UA rice breeder, has asked Griffis to incorporate a means of measuring the dimensions of kernels still in the hulls. "It's another measure of rice quality that's important to breeders," says Griffis. "Breeders can then plant the undamaged rice to make further selections toward improved varieties.”

Griffis and Gosnell are completing the first year of a three-year study on the machine inspection system. At the end of three years, Griffis plans to deliver a fully automated system to scientists at the Rice Research and Extension Center at Stuttgart.

"We're standing on the shoulders of Dr. Tao to develop this system," says Griffis. "His initial work set the stage for us to continue it toward a full-scale prototype that will become a valuable tool in the effort to develop improved rice varieties for Arkansas producers."

Column: Sparks’ passing marking end of era?

I was covering a marketing seminar in Greenwood, Miss., in March of 1984 when Willard Sparks began talking about soybean prices. In his distinctive style, Sparks predicted sharply higher soybean supplies and said he wouldn’t be surprised if November futures fell into the $4-per-bushel range by fall.

The audience, mostly Mississippi Delta farmers who had been selling soybeans for $7 to $9 a bushel a few months earlier, was stunned. There was a buzz in the back of the room before Sparks finished speaking.

As with many of his predictions, Sparks was right. November futures dropped to $4.75 a bushel before expiring. Many soybean farmers who had purchased land, assuming that futures would remain at profitable levels, went out of business along with some of the federal land banks.

Although some blamed him for a self-fulfilling prophecy, Sparks, who died of throat cancer at his home in Memphis, Tenn., Jan. 30, was simply trying to warn farmers of the potential plunge in prices.

There’s no doubt that Sparks, the founder of Sparks Commodities and the Sparks Companies, made a great deal of money. He was part owner of REFCO, one of the largest commodity trading firms on the Chicago Board of Trade.

He started Memphis-based Sparks Companies in 1977 after helping the late Ned Cook, another Memphian, put together major wheat and soybean sales to the Soviet Union in the early 1970s. Sparks Commodities became one of the best-known market analysis and trading firms before he sold the company to British-based Informa Economics in 2003.

But he was also active in community circles, donating to area universities, including the University of Memphis and Mississippi State University. He did more than write checks, serving as chairman of the U of M’s board of visitors until 2003 and chairing fundraisers for organization’s like Mississippi State’s Graduate School of Agribusiness Management.

Sparks was never in as much demand as some of his contemporaries, possibly because of his speaking style, which might best be described as “stream of consciousness.” (I gave a tape of one of Sparks’ long, rambling speeches to one of the Farm Press secretaries once. She threatened to quit if I ever gave her another.)

But there was never any doubt he knew what he was talking about or that he was giving his honest opinion.

With Sparks’ passing and the announcement of the retirement of fellow Memphian Billy Dunavant, we may be reaching the end of an era when the heads of major marketing firms would stand up and put their reputations on the line.

Not all farmers trusted their motives. More than one farmer standing in the back of a packed room has told me that he “just came to hear what Billy or Willard were going to do to the market.”

But it would be interesting to see how much money farmers could have made if they had followed the suggestions in their speeches over the last 25 years.

e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com