One of the first farm commodity organizations I visited when I moved to Texas a bit more than six years ago was Plains Cotton Growers Inc. Former Southwest Farm Press editor Cal Pigg took me by and introduced me to the folks at PCG. I recall that they were extremely cordial and offered to do what they could to help me locate sources for stories and to keep me informed about cotton on the High Plains.

They've been true to their word. If I need a story idea, they always come through. If I need someone to comment on farm legislation, they either step up and tell me what I need or find me the right source. If I need contact information for industry, legislators, farmers or ginners, all I have to do is call or drop an e-mail and I am confident of getting an answer promptly.

And when travel plans have me in Lubbock on the right Friday morning, stopping in for the cotton update, hosted by PCG, is always a good idea. It's a place to get the absolute latest on things cotton — production, legislation, marketing and most anything else that has to do with our favorite fiber.

I've worked with a number of commodity groups over the years and I refuse to identify any one as better than any of the others. I've been enjoyed excellent cooperation from most. But I will say that I have never worked with a better, more professional group than Plains Cotton Growers.

Consequently, when I learned that 2006 marks their 50th anniversary, I pitched an idea to our publisher, Greg Frey, that we ought to do a special insert to commemorate the milestone. He readily agreed and we started putting together a plan to attempt condensing 50 years of service to the High Plains cotton industry into just a few pages. The result is included in this issue and I'll be the first to admit that we have not done justice to all PCG has accomplished in the last half-century. But to do so would require a book, maybe several, and we haven't had time to put that together — maybe for the 100th anniversary.

Someone please remind me.

Collecting the information for this special issue took a lot of time and effort, but it was a fascinating experience. Chatting, even briefly, with former PCG presidents and staff provides a unique look at the development of the High Plains cotton industry. Most of these interviews included a good portion of chuckles mixed in with a solid appreciation for what the organization means to the Plains cotton industry and to rural communities affected by the ups and downs of cotton.

I would have enjoyed sitting down with each source over a cup of coffee and spending a few hours collecting their thoughts. Alas, we had to settle for phone interviews for most, but perhaps we can treat some of them to a cup of coffee as we travel through the Plains.

In the meantime, we hope our meager efforts will at lest give readers an idea of the esteem in which we hold the organization and illustrate what PCG has meant to West Texas cotton since 1956.