A special seminar on weed resistance and a discussion of legislative and agricultural issues by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Blanche Lincoln are highlights of this year’s Mid-South Farm and Gin Show, which starts Friday at Memphis.

In its 58 years, the annual show has become a must-attend agricultural event for producers in the Mid-South states, and increasingly for those in other areas across the South because it comes at a key time — as they’re formulating plans for the new cropping season.

The show, to be held Feb. 26-27 at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis, is sponsored by the Southern Cotton Ginners Association, with Delta Farm Press as co-sponsor.

More than 400 exhibitors will offer a broad range of products and services in the largest indoor farm show in the South.

Special to this year’s show will be an informational seminar on a topic of major interest — weed resistance —and a guest appearance by 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.”

“Herbicide resistance has emerged as one of the leading production issues for farmers, not only in the Mid-South but across the nation,” Price says. “Farmers are concerned about how to deal with this critical issue, which could drastically change production practices.”

Ken Smith, University of Arkansas Extension weed specialist, will provide an overview and moderate the panel discussion.

Other participants will be Jason Bond, assistant research professor-rice weed management, Mississippi State University; Daniel Stephenson, assistant professor/specialist weed science, Louisiana State University AgCenter, and Larry Steckel, University of Tennessee Extension weed specialist.

“The coming crop year promises to be particularly challenging,” says Tim Price, executive vice president of the association and show manager.

“Coming on the heels of a season that brought a host of problems, not the least of which was almost continuous rains during critical growing and harvest periods, farmers are wanting answers to questions about how to cope with adverse weather, weed resistance, grain storage and management, the international market, a sagging economy — basically, ways to adapt and survive.

“While we bring together under one roof hundreds of providers of products and services, so farmers can see what’s new in agriculture and talk one-on-one with knowledgeable representatives from all those companies, ours is not just a kick-the-tires trade show.

“Rather, it has become a key forum about issues and problems confronting today’s producer — a place where they can get ideas and information from experts on ways to increase productivity and improve management and marketing skills.”

The show, Price says, “has become a place for farmers to get answers, not just from the hundreds of experts who are on hand, but in discussions with fellow farmers and ginners.”

He says industry watchers are expecting “some leveling-off, perhaps even a slight rebound, in cotton production in 2010.

“Even though grains have become very strong in the Mid-South in recent years, at the expense of cotton, we feel the cotton infrastructure remains strong. This is borne out in all the new products being made available in the cotton sector, many associated with the changes in production related to the new cotton pickers with on-board module systems — not just from mainline manufacturers, but from other companies offering equipment and products to improve efficiency and profitability.”

After three years of declining acreage, Price says, “It’s encouraging to see this surge of innovation, demonstrating the resiliency of a cotton industry that’s always looking forward.”

More than 20,000 domestic and international decision-makers are expected to attend the 58th annual show. Admission 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 informational Ag Update seminars to be held Friday and Saturday will include outlook sessions for cotton and grains, along with comments from industry officials.

Additionally, Price says, “We’re extremely fortunate to have Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), the new chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, for a discussion of agricultural issues.”

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 the annual banquet honoring the Ginner of the Year.

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