2018 High Cotton Award winners cover
High Cotton, a favorite function

High Cotton Award, absent but there in spirit

High Cotton Awards: hated to miss it.

Ordinarily, I would have gotten up early last Friday, donned a coat and tie and made my way to the ballroom of the Memphis Sheraton, the one adjacent to the convention center, to participate in the annual Farm Press/Cotton Foundation High Cotton Awards Breakfast.

I would have been honored to introduce the winner from the Southwest, Merlin Schantz, along with his wife Lillian. I probably would have made a few feeble attempts at humor before recognizing Merlin, and Lillian’s, achievements. The High Cotton breakfast is one of, if not the, most favorite function of the year for me.

Alas, I missed it this morning. I’ve missed only about three over the past 20 years, but this morning I’m where I need to be. Pat had back surgery last week, and although she is doing remarkably well, it’s best that I stay home and take care of her. That’s part and parcel of the bargain we made just over 37 years ago with a couple of “I dos,” uttered in front of family, friends and two ministers. I still do.

I miss having the opportunity to congratulate and help honor Merlin and Lillian, as well as winners from the other three regions, but I’m confident that Southwest Farm Press staff writer Shelley Huguley has done Farm Press proud. I had no qualms about turning the responsibility of honoring Merlin and Lillian over to her.

She reports that the breakfast went well and that she was proud to be a part of it. I think this will become one of her favorite functions, as well.

I did get up early this morning, but instead of coat and tie I shrugged into my sweats, a ball cap, tied up my walking shoes and took my morning 30-minute stroll—a regimen recommended by my knee surgeon two years ago.

 In addition to keeping me somewhat fit, that early morning walk clears my head and helps me plan my morning. This morning, I reflected on High Cotton, thought about some of the winners I’ve been fortunate to meet, interview and get to know. It’s an impressive list, which I will not attempt to post here—I’d leave out a few and would be embarrassed about the omission. Suffice it to say, the High Cotton winners I’ve been honored to know over the past 24 or 25 years represent the best of the best cotton producers across the Cotton Belt. I consider them friends and I also value their experience, knowledge and leadership in the industry. I touch base with them when I can to get their insights on cotton matters.

Other reports from the breakfast indicate that attendance was good.  Delta Farm Press staff writer Brad Robb said the award presentations were “touching, informative, fun and special.” That sounds about right. Next year.

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