When Cliff Granberry left a major gin equipment company in 1959 to start his own business, he knew the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show at Memphis would be a great place to exhibit his products and make industry contacts.

“The year I started the Cotton Gin Supply Company, I exhibited at the Memphis show — and we haven't missed a year since,” Granberry, 85, said recently at his Dallas home. He's retired from the gin products business, but his son, Jim, whose main business is commercial real estate investment, runs the gin company and continues to make the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show an important part of his marketing program each year.

“He'll be there again this year,” says the elder Granberry.

The Granberry firm is one of hundreds of companies that will be a part of this year's event, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the show.

From the latest in equipment to seed, chemicals, and services, and other products, growers will find it in the hundreds of exhibits that make up the largest indoor farm show in the South, to be held at Memphis, March 1-2, at the Cook Convention Center.

“We've got a great show lined up,” says Lee Todd, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, “and we hope everyone will come and celebrate this milestone event with us.”

The show, co-sponsored by the ginners group and by Delta Farm Press, is the largest cotton equipment trade show in the nation. “With our show taking place just before the new season gets under way, growers have a unique opportunity to obtain the latest information about everything that's important to them as they make decisions for the 2002 crop year that's just around the corner,” Todd says.

“From our beginning, half a century ago, the show has attracted leading farmers, ginners, and agribusiness companies for a simple reason: It's one of the best agricultural exhibits in the United States.”

Also a big draw for attendees are the Ag Update Seminars, held Friday and Saturday mornings. These always result in a packed house, and this year is expected to be no different, as an outstanding panel discusses topics at the top of growers' hot lists. Here's the lineup for this year's sessions:

Friday, March 1, 8:30 a.m.

  • Kenneth Hood, Mississippi farmer and agribusinessman and the new chairman of the National Cotton Council, will discuss cotton industry issues.
  • Richard E. Bell, president and chief executive officer of Riceland Foods, Stuttgart, Ark., will present his analysis of rice, soybean, and wheat markets.
  • William “Billy” Dunavant, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Dunavant Enterprises, Memphis, will conclude the program with his annual assessment of what's happening in the cotton market in the U.S. and worldwide and what he sees in the cards for 2002 and beyond.

Saturday, March 2, 8:30 a.m.

  • Roy Cantrell, the new director of agricultural research for Cotton Incorporated, will discuss how producer-funded research programs are paying off for U.S. growers.
  • William “Bill” Hawks, Mississippi farmer/legislator who is now USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Washington, will discuss legislative/regulatory issues.
  • Bruce Scherr, president and chief executive officer of Sparks Companies, Memphis, will discuss the outlook for Mid-South commodities.

“These speakers represent an outstanding cross-section of agricultural interests,” Todd says, “and the information they present will be of value to all our growers.”

The doors for the big show open at 9 a.m., Friday and Saturday, and close at 5 p.m., Friday, and 4:30 p.m., Saturday. Admission is free.