The National Cotton Council’s 2019 Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.) program kicks off with two tours this week (July 28-August 1), as ten Southwestern cotton producers visit California’s San Joaquin Valley and nine Southeast producers travel to the Mid-South.
Sponsored by Bayer through a grant to The Cotton Foundation, P.I.E. – now in its 31st year – has exposed nearly 1,200 U.S. cotton producers to innovative production practices in Cotton Belt regions different than their own. NCC’s Member Services staff, in conjunction with local producer interest organizations, conducts the program, including participant selection.
The program aims to help participants boost their efficiency by gaining new perspectives in fundamental practices such as land preparation, planting, fertilization, pest control, irrigation and harvesting; and by observing ways in which their innovative peers are using current technology. Participants will not only learn from the producers they visit on the tours, but also from their regional peers they will travel with.
Southwest cotton producers joining the Western tour are Shelby Long, Hollis, OK; and nine Texans – Mark Wright, Roscoe; Curtis Wilde, Wall; Justin Cave, Ackerly; Ciera Ware, Ralls; Russell Williams, Dalhart; Sam Stanley, Levelland; Ty Vardeman, Slaton; Dannie Morris, Wellington; and Spence Pennington, Raymondville.
The group will begin their San Joaquin Valley tour in Fresno on July 29 with a briefing from the California Cotton Ginners/Growers Association, followed by a tour of Bayer’s research facility. They will also visit Don Cameron’s Terra Nova Ranch in Helm and observe extra-long staple cotton production in the Tranquillity area.
On July 30, the group will see Gilkey Enterprises’ cotton operations in Corcoran and visit other area cotton farms, including Jovie & Mark Rosa Farms in Laton.
On July 31, the producers will tour the Quady Winery in Madera, then go to Los Banos for a look at tomato processing at the Ingomar Packing Company and a tour of Delta Farms’ cotton operation and visits with other area cotton producers.
The California tour concludes on August 1 with a look at table grape harvesting at Kirschenmann Farms in Bakersfield and tour of Farmers Cooperative Almond Huller in Wasco.
Southeast producers on the Mid-South tour are Tommy Hargrave Jr., Garysburg, NC; Paul Rogers, III, Wakefield, VA; Niko Goodwin, Parrott, GA; Walt Calhoun, Clio, SC; Kemp Wilson, Chester, SC; Brian Rayburn, Boston, GA; Mitchell Womble and Bobby Joe Womble II, both from Donalsonville, GA; and Garrett Hurley, Summerville, GA.
This tour begins on July 29 with a visit to Bayer’s Chesterfield Village Research Center in Chesterfield, MO. On July 30, the group will visit multiple farms in Southeast Missouri and other cotton farming operations in the Dyersburg, TN area.
On July 31, the group returns to Missouri to see melon production, processing and shipping in Hornersville before traveling to Arkansas to learn about the revitalization of the Delta town of Wilson and see cotton production at Lawrence Farms there. They will end that day observing cotton and peanut production at Wildy Farms in nearby Manila.
The tour ends on August 1 in Arkansas with a look at rice processing at Windmill Rice Company in Jonesboro and rice production at White-Flye Farms in Weona; a briefing on Delta flood management at the W.G. Huxtable Pumping Station in Marianna; and a visit to McClendon Farms in Soudan to observe cotton irrigation and crop rotation practices.
In this season’s other P.I.E. tour, producers from the Mid-South and West will see cotton and other agricultural operations in North Carolina and Virginia on August 11-16.
Based on information provided by the National Cotton Council