I am getting quite a few calls to ask if the rumor that I am retiring is true. I will be retiring from my position with the University of Arkansas effective Jan. 4, 2002.

I have been thinking about it for a couple of years and actually thought I would make the next two crops in my current position. However, we had a window of opportunity come open for an early out, and I just decided the timing was right for me to take it.

For the most part, my career has been a barrel of fun and highly rewarding. I have tried to make sure I never lost sight of my ultimate customer — the farmer.

I hope programs I have been privileged to be a part of, such as our reduced rate programs in soybeans and other crops, Command on rice and Hoelon-resistant ryegrass control in wheat, have put money back in your pockets. If they haven't made you money, hopefully they have helped you at least stay in business longer.

I have been privileged to work with some of the very best county agents, Extension specialists, research scientists and agribusiness people in the world. I have also been blessed with a superb support staff that did the bulk of my work.

The most rewarding parts of my job have been the positive reinforcement from farmers, county agents and other clientele about our programs.

I have also been blessed with excellent financial support from the growers through the rice, soybean and wheat promotion boards.

By now you may be thinking, “If it is all that great, why are you retiring early?” I believe there are an increasing number of opportunities to do a lot of the same things I do now in the private sector. It presents a new challenge for me to pursue some of those and see what is really there. I am ever going to do it, I had better take the opportunity while I am still young enough to have a lot of energy to devote to it.

At this point, I have a lot of thoughts and ideas, but nothing firm. I will certainly entertain ideas from others. One thing I want to do is continue to work with farmers and continue to be a source of unbiased information.

For the remainder of this year, it will be business as usual for the University of Arkansas. After that, I hope you will notice very little difference in my weekly articles.

Later on I will furnish new telephone numbers, e-mail address and, hopefully, a Website. I can assure you I am not going away, but rather changing roles. I plan to remain on the leading edge of weed control technology in the major crops and probably specialize in rice.

Hopefully it will be challenging, fun and rewarding. Things are tough in agriculture, but tough times often present great opportunities. Next week I will get back to weed control stuff.


Ford Baldwin is an Arkansas Extension weed scientist. e-mail: fbaldwin@uaex.edu.