306 A BICENTENNIAL HISTORY OF MISSISSIPPI STAPLCOTN In an effort to improve the way that growers marketed cotton, Oscar Bledsoe, Jr., collaborated with fellow Delta planters LeRoy Percy, Oscar Johnston, and others to found Staple Cotton Cooperative Association (Staplcotn) in 1921. During its first year, the nearly 1,500-member cooperative marketed 156,026 bales of cotton at 25.96 cents per pound. Staplcotn continued to thrive throughout the twentieth century, even surviving difficult times such as the Great Flood of 1927, the Great Depression, and the post-World War II era. Today, Staplcotn is considered the oldest and one of the biggest cotton marketing cooperatives in America, handling almost 14,000 farm accounts in eleven states—Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Missouri, Florida, Alabama, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Staplcotn markets approximately 2 to 3 million bales of cotton per year. With nearly 100 years of success in the cotton industry, Staplcotn continues its legacy of quality production and service. Under the leadership of President and Chief Executive Officer, Meredith Allen, Staplcotn marketed its 100 millionth bale of cotton in 2015. MISSISSIPPI SNOW Cotton production has been part of Mississippi’s economy since before Mississippi achieved statehood in 1817. In 1860, right before the Civil War began, Mississippi was producing more than 4,000,000 bales of cotton a year. Usually rotated with soybeans or corn, cotton is still one of the primary agricultural crops in the state. PHOTOS BY GREG CAMPBELL PHOTO BY JOHNNY JENNINGS