Kenneth Hood will tell you he is just an ordinary Mississippi cotton producer –  pushing through the daily grit and grind that comes with farming, with his feet always firmly planted in Mid-South Delta soils.

But his view can also drift high above the earth, where he sees farming in an entirely different light, literally and figuratively. Call them dreams, or call them flights of fancy, his high altitude musings have led to practices that have defined concepts of modern precision agriculture and its role in sustainability and stewardship.

But precision farming is just a snapshot of Hood’s accomplishments. He has worked tirelessly to improve profitability and reduce the risks of cotton production, while leaving the soil in good shape for succeeding generations. He’s given his time and land to research and development of new products and technology. He’s worked beyond the farm gate as a leader in numerous farm organizations.

The Gunnison, Miss., cotton producer, ginner, innovator, and entrepreneur is the 2014 High Cotton award winner for the Delta states.

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   2014 High Cotton Award Winners

   2013 High Cotton Award Winners

   2012 High Cotton Award Winners

   2011 High Cotton Award Winners

Hood produces 12,000 acres of cotton, wheat, soybeans and corn in partnership with three brothers, Howard, Curtis and Cary, on Perthshire Farms, just north of Gunnison. The Hoods also run H.B. Hood and Sons Gins, Hood Equipment Co., a dealer for Case IH and New Holland, and InTime, Inc., an aerial imagery-based precision farming service. Typically Hood plants about 3,500 acres of cotton, but this season, Hood’s 53rd, he harvested fewer than 1,000 acres after wet weather forced three replantings.

Hood is the ultimate, bleeding edge innovator and found out early in life that such an approach to farming can raise more skepticism than accolade.

When Hood was a freshman at Mississippi State in 1958, he and his father designed and built an 8-row planter, an 8-row roller and an 8-row buster with hippers, at a time when most farmers were just starting to move from 4-row to 6-row equipment.

Hood submitted a term paper on 8-row equipment for a mechanics class, but his professor, considering the concept nothing short of fantasy, gave him a failing grade. Hood, needing a passing grade in the course, took Polaroid photographs of the implements in the field and brought them back to Starkville.

After showing them to the professor, he lobbied for a grade change to at least a “D.” The professor, amazed that the Hoods were actually making 8-row work, gave him an “A.”