It’s show time! The Mid-South Farm & Gin Show opens today at the Memphis Cook Convention Center for two days filled with a close-up look at all that’s new in agriculture, the latest information on markets and crop outlooks, an array of new educational exhibits, and fun for the entire family.

The event, sponsored by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, with Delta Farm Press as co-sponsor, will have more than 400 exhibits spread across the convention center’s exhibit halls.

“For more than half a century, Mid-South farmers have come to look on the show as the place where it all comes together before the new planting season gets under way,” says Tim Price, SCGA executive vice president and show manager.

“That’s even more true this year, with the U.S. and world economies in turmoil and all those uncertainties reflected in the agricultural outlook.”

But, Price says, “Agriculture is an industry that always pulls itself together and meets challenges head-on. Tractors will soon be rolling and seed going in the ground — and our show gives Delta growers an opportunity to meet face-to-face with hundreds of agriculture’s most knowledgeable people and get an insight into all the forces that are shaping the 2009 crop year.”

This year’s exhibits will encompass everything from the new module-builder cotton harvesters to the latest in GPS technologies, biotech seeds, chemicals, and a host of other products and services to help farmers achieve greater efficiency and production.

“Farmers are hungry for information as they try and get a handle on what to do this year,” Price says, “and there’s no better place to talk with industry, Extension, and research experts, as well as interaction with fellow farmers.”

And new this year will be a dozen or so educational exhibits on the convention center’s mezzanine level, where university specialists, researchers, and industry experts will make available the latest information on biofuels, ATV training/safety, crop production/harvesting research results, as well as opportunities for skin and other health screening.

This year’s show will again feature a grains outlook and marketing seminar conducted by Richard Brock, president, Brock Associates, one of the nation’s leading analysts of agricultural markets and issues.

“Richard’s seminars always draw a full house,” Price says, “and his insights this year should be especially useful to growers as they finalize plans for the new season.”

The Brock seminar will be at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, in the convention center lobby meeting room.

In addition to Q&A opportunities during the seminar, Brock will have a booth at the show, where farmers may visit with him personally.

At the Friday, Feb. 27, Ag Update Meeting at 8:30 a.m. in the lobby meeting room, leading industry experts will discuss the outlook for Mid-South crops.

Jay Hardwick, Louisiana cotton/grains producer and chairman-elect of the National Cotton Council, will discuss current council activities in the legislative and trade issues.

Carl Brothers, senior vice president of Riceland Foods, the diversified agricultural processing and marketing cooperative at Stuttgart, Ark., will discuss the rice and wheat outlook.

Joe Nicosia, chief executive officer of Allenberg Cotton Company, Memphis, will discuss the outlook for U.S. and world cotton.

“These informational seminars Friday and Saturday mornings will offer Mid-South growers an excellent opportunity to get the latest insight into market trends and issues,” Price says.

Members of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association will be holding their annual meeting during the week, and speakers there will include Sledge Taylor, Como, Miss., farmer/ginner and president of the National Cotton Ginners Association; Dr. Gary Adams, National Cotton Council economist, who will discuss challenges and opportunities for cotton in 2009; Larry McClendon, Marianna, Ark., farmer/ginner and former National Cotton Council chairman, who will discuss a ginner’s perspective on ginning changes; Austin Rose, president of Cape & Sons, Abilene, Texas, who will discuss the outlook for cottonseed marketing; and Julian Beall III, president of TJ Beall Company, West Point, Ga., who will discuss value-added and quality issues.

Anyone interested in these topics is welcome to attend the session at the Peabody Hotel Venetian Room at 1:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 26.

“It’s going to be a great show,” Price says, “and we hope everyone bring the family for an informative, fun-packed weekend in Memphis.”

Exhibit areas at the show will be open Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.