The 53rd annual Mid-South Farm & Gin Show, to be held at Memphis, Tenn., March 4-5, will not only give growers a firsthand look at new ag products and technologies, it will also offer the latest information on what's sure to be 2005's hottest topic: soybean rust.

More than 15,000 people attend the annual event, to be held at the downtown Cook Convention Center.

“We're planning a special seminar on the topic, led by the nation's number one authority on the disease,” says Tim Price, executive vice president of the Southern Cotton Ginners Association and show director.

“Monte Miles, USDA Agricultural Research plant physiologist at the University of Illinois, will lead a reaction panel, which will have participants ranging from growers and input providers through end users.”

The seminar will be held Saturday, March 5, and 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.

“Since our event comes just before the start of the new season, this seminar will offer soybean growers an opportunity to get the latest information on this disease for use in making key crop management decisions,” Price says.

“While soybean rust is new to the U.S., researchers have been working on it for at least five years, and Miles has a wealth of information that can help growers take a proactive stance in dealing with it.”

Growers will have access to a broad range of additional information in the Ag Update sessions held Friday and Saturday mornings.

Market outlooks will be provided Friday by:

  • Woods Eastland, president and chief executive officer of Staplcotn, the Greenwood, Miss., cotton marketing cooperative.

  • J. Michael Hathorne, vice president and coordinator of economic analysis for Informa Economics, Memphis, who will discuss rice and wheat.

Speakers for the Saturday morning session will be:

  • Richard Brock, president of Brock Associates, a widely known farm marketing advisory firm, and publisher of The Brock Report. He will present the outlook for soybeans and corn.

  • To be announced, a speaker on the outlook for alternative bio-based energy, including biodiesel and ethanol.

Also expected to be present for remarks both days are congressional and USDA officials.

“We feel the Ag Update programs and the soybean rust seminar will offer a forum for issues of key importance to farmers this year,” Price says.

This year's show, co-sponsored by Delta Farm Press, is shaping up to be another sellout for the 200,000 square foot convention center.

More than 450 exhibits are expected, Price says, running the gamut from the latest equipment, to seed, chemicals, and services.

“We have many new exhibitors, bringing a new array of products,” Price says, “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.”

“Memphis is a fun place for the entire family to spend a weekend,” Price says, “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.