By Thomas Marten
Stark County Farm Bureau Manager
I had a great opportunity to do something I’ve wanted to do this past weekend.
This past June, I toured John Deere’s cotton harvester factory near Des Moines, Iowa. The machines rolling off the line today do a lot of work and help cotton farmers harvest faster and with fewer people. The pickers today not only collect the fiber but they accumulate it, bale it and wrap the bale – all in one machine.
For a while I’ve been talking to a fraternity brother of mine who lives near Gates, Tennessee. He and his family grow cotton, corn and soybeans in western Tennessee between Dyersburg and Memphis. After spending an evening at the SIU Fall Festival, which Chris McMillan also attended, I went on down to visit Hill farms to finally ride along in a cotton picker and also to collect hundreds of bolls for Ag in the Classroom programs for neighboring counties.
These cotton pickers are impressive machines. The method in which they strip the fiber from the plant is really innovative. Someone far smarter and savvier than I problem solved through that dilemma.
As I briefly mentioned Chris McMillan and I were both in Carbondale this weekend as the Salukis hosted the Indiana State Sycamores for this year’s homecoming game. While SIU fell short of a win on Saturday, it is nevertheless always good to reconnect with fellow alumni and friends.
While I am excited to bring back cotton, we will not have another southern commodity this year. For the past several years, Stark County Farm Bureau has sold fresh citrus fruit from an exchange with the Florida Farm Bureau and its members. We will no longer be offering this.
This comes out of a few different reasons. As you may know, Florida farmers are being ravaged by citrus greening, which destroys their citrus groves and to date there has been no resistance found naturally in citrus trees. This has caused prices to skyrocket, selection to be limited and quality leaving much to be desired. Last year several of you were also not satisfied with the fruit quality and as this progresses, I don’t want to put you or our Farm Bureau on the line for sub-standard fruit.
By Thomas Marten