MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis cotton merchant William Dunavant will present his annual cotton market forecast at the 2005 Mid-South Farm & Gin Show.

The show, sponsored by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, with Delta Farm Press as co-sponsor, will be March 4-5 at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis.

Dunavant, whose Dunavant Enterprises is the world’s largest cotton marketing firm, has been a featured speaker at the annual event for many years. (He announced at this year’s Beltwide Cotton Conferences that he will retire later this year as the company’s chief executive officer, but will continue as chairman of the board).

He will speak Friday morning, March 4, at the 8:30 a.m. Ag Update session in the convention center lobby auditorium.

“Mr. Dunavant has always been a major draw for these meetings — everyone wants to hear what he has to say about cotton,” said Tim Price, executive vice president of the ginner association and manager of the show that attracts 20,000 people.

Ag Update sessions

Here’s the lineup for both days of the informational sessions:

Friday, March 4 — Woods Eastland, president and chief executive officer of Staplcotn, the Greenwood, Miss., cotton marketing cooperative, and the 2005 chairman of the National Cotton Council, will discuss cotton sector issues.

Michael Hathorn, vice president and coordinator of economic analysis for Informa Economics, Memphis, will discuss the outlook for rice and wheat.

William Dunavant, the cotton market outlook.

Saturday, March 5 — William Hawks, USDA undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, will give introductory remarks and comment on USDA programs; Richard Brock, one of the nation’s leading grain marketing analysts and publisher of The Brock Report, will discuss the grain market outlook.

Joe Jobe, executive director of the National Biodiesel Board, will discuss the current state of the bio-based fuels industry.

In addition to the speakers for the Friday and Saturday Ag Update sessions, the show’s 400-plus exhibits will provide growers a firsthand look at new ag products and technologies.

It will also offer the latest information on one of 2005’s hottest agricultural topics: soybean rust. A special seminar on the disease will be conducted by Monte Miles, USDA Agricultural Research plant physiologist at the University of Illinois, the nation’s leading authority on the subject. He will lead a reaction panel, which will have participants ranging from growers and input providers through end users.

Scheduled for Saturday, March 5, at 1 p.m., it will be co-sponsored by a number of Mid-South organizations, including the Agricultural Council of Arkansas, the Delta Council, state soybean associations, state soybean promotion boards, and others.

Hundreds of exhibits

This year’s show, is shaping up to be another sellout for the 200,000-square foot convention center and the largest in the event’s history.

Exhibits will range from the latest equipment, to seed, chemicals, and services. Exhibitors are from 40-plus states and two foreign countries.

“The show has become an early spring tradition for Mid-South farmers, ginners, and others involved in agriculture,” he said.

“In addition to many exhibitors who are with us year-in and year-out, we have many who will be here for the first time, bringing a new array of products. And a lot of our every-year exhibitors are increasing their space, so it’s going to be a very diverse show spanning all the major Mid-South crops.

“While we’re proud of the cotton and ginning heritage of the show, it has evolved over the years into a stage for exhibitors representing all of our crops. We believe it is the premier indoor farm show in the South.”

Family fun

“Memphis is a fun place for the entire family to spend a weekend,” Price said, “and we hope everyone will mark their calendars and plan to come and be a part of this year’s big show.”

Coinciding with the show is the annual meeting of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and its member associations from Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas-Missouri, and a number of ginner events are held during the week of the show.

The Ginner of the Year award will be presented to Dan Logan Jr., Gilliam, La., at the organization’s annual banquet March 3.