While the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show — now just a week away — offers producers a firsthand look at a wide-ranging array of new products and services, this year’s event will feature a broad lineup of educational seminars focusing on resistance concerns in crops, marketing/outlook, and legislation.

The annual show, which draws more than 20,000 people, will be held Feb. 26-27 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, sponsored by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and Foundation, with Delta Farm Press as co-sponsor.

“The addition of a seminar on weed resistance is very timely and highlights a problem of increasing importance to Mid-South growers,” says Don Alexander, executive vice president of the Agricultural Council of Arkansas.

“With advances in weed control technology that have made weed control easier over the past couple of decades, we need to avoid complacency about the ability of plants to become resistant.

“We need to be concerned about this and start taking action to increase awareness of the need to use every method possible to combat the development of resistance and maintain the effectiveness of the tools in our arsenal. There’s no way we could put enough hoe hands in the fields to control weeds if we were to lose these materials.

“We’re pleased that growers attending the show will have the opportunity to hear from experts in the field of weed resistance about ways to deal with this problem,” Alexander says.

The issue of herbicide resistance “is causing production systems to be adjusted in a way that aggravates the cost-price squeeze producers are already feeling,” says Bowen Flowers, Coahoma County, Miss., producer who is chairman of the Delta Council’s Soil and Water Resources Committee.

Among Mid-South weed specialists participating in the seminar on weed resistance Friday, Feb. 26, at 1:30 p.m., are Ken Smith, University of Arkansas; Daniel Stephenson, Louisiana State University; Jason Bond, Mississippi State University; and Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee.

A sellout of exhibit space for this year’s 58th annual show “is an indication of the industry’s optimism for agriculture’s strength and vitality,” says Tim Price, show manager and executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association. More than 400 exhibits of equipment, products, and services will be featured.

“All our space in the traditional showroom areas is filled,” Price says. “In the seven years I’ve been associated with the show, I don’t think we’ve ever had as many applications for space to exhibit new products and services — yet another indication of how this industry rises to challenges by developing solutions for farmers’ needs.

“After all the problems producers faced during the 2009 season, more than ever before they’re looking for answers and new ideas for better coping with adversities,” Price says.

“Our show continues to be the pre-season place for producers to get the latest information on production and management, see the newest equipment and products, and interact one-on-one with hundreds of experts in dozens of agricultural disciplines.

“The ag industry has really responded to this need by offering products and services that provide solutions for growers — and it’s not just in the ongoing array of new technology, but also evaluating older products that may fill a need in dealing with problems such as weed resistance.

“There is a lot of broad-based, clear-headed thinking by companies wanting to show farmers value in their products — not just to improve production, but to help them be better managers for the long term.”

A special guest for the show will Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “We’re honored to welcome Sen. Lincoln to the show,” Price says. “She is a long-time advocate for agriculture, and we appreciate her coming to provide insight into key policy issues of concern to Mid-South farmers.” The senator will speak Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in the Steamboat Room of the Convention Center.

“I’m looking forward to participating in the show and hearing directly from those who make significant contributions to agriculture each day,” Sen. Lincoln says. “This event is an important opportunity to highlight the traditions and successes of American agriculture — particularly those of our Mid-South growers.

“Times are hard for farmers, and I will use this opportunity to hear firsthand from growers and industry leaders on the challenges they face as they plan for the future. Together, we will work to insure that our agricultural producers can continue to meet our food and fiber needs, while providing much-needed economic strength to our rural communities.”

The informational Ag Update seminars to be held Friday and Saturday will include outlook sessions for cotton and grains, along with comments from industry officials.

Headliner speakers for the 8:30 a.m. Friday seminar will be Carl Brothers, Riceland Foods, and Joe Nicosia, Allenberg Cotton Co. At the Saturday 8:30 a.m. session, Richard Brock, Brock and Associates, will present his in-depth seminar on grain marketing.

Admission to the show is free, but registration is required for admittance to the show areas.

Exhibit hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

The member associations of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association will be holding their annual meeting during the week of the show, with informational sessions and other events, including its annual banquet, at which Ginner of the Year Kevin Watts, McGehee Producers Gin, McGehee, Ark., will be recognized, and the late Duke Shackelford, Jones, La., producer/ginner, will be honored with an SCGA memorial scholarship for the Gin Management Technology Program at Mississippi State University.

The SCGA annual meeting, at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, in the Peabody Hotel’s Venetian Room, will include an annual update on association and foundation activities, along with presentations by industry representatives, university researchers, and others.

Speakers include Kirk Gilkey, president of the National Cotton Ginners Association; Paul Scruggs, location manager, Cottonseed Trading Group/Lansing Trade Group, who will discuss “The Changing World of Cottonseed Marketing”; Matthew Fannin, assistant professor of agricultural economics and agribusiness, Louisiana State University, who will discuss “Mid-South Ginning Infrastructure”; Pete Nelson, director of the AgBioworks program for the Memphis BioWorks Foundation, who will discuss “The Mid-South Potential for Biotechnology”; Tommy Valco, cotton technology transfer and education coordinator, Office of Technology Transfer, USDA-ARS, Stoneville, Miss., who will discuss ginning research; and Paul Funk, USDA Southwestern Cotton Ginning Laboratory, who will discuss “Gin Energy Use.”

All association members are encouraged to invite their farmers and stockholders to attend the meeting, Price says.

“This is an opportunity for our members to get updates on critical issues in our industry and to hear from professionals working on critical ginning industry research and the potential for Mid-South agriculture in emerging industries.”

For more information about the show, contact the Southern Cotton Ginners Association at (901) 947-3104 or visit their Web site, farmandginshow.com.