MEMPHIS, TN - Southeastern cotton producers will host their peers from Arizona and California July 13-17 as part of the 2003 National Cotton Council/FMC Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.) program.
The P.I.E. enables cotton producers to observe production and talk to their peers in regions different from their own. Participants gain new perspectives in such areas as land preparation, planting, fertilization, pest control, irrigation and harvesting. The overall goal of this unique one-on-one, on-farm communication is helping participants improve their yields and fiber quality and become more efficient by speeding up their adoption of proven technology and farming methods.
Now in its 15th year, the program is managed by the NCC’s Member Services staff in conjunction with local producer associations and is supported by a grant to The Cotton Foundation from FMC Corporation.
Ed Cherry, FMC’s manager, government regulations and agribusiness affairs, sees the exchange program as even more important now than when it began in 1989 because producers today have to be much more responsive to change.
"When growers see a new farming method or tool firsthand, they are more likely to risk putting it to work on their farms," Cherry said. "We’ve seen, for example, growers in West Texas go back and install drip irrigation on their farms after seeing it on a Western operation."
2002-2003 Cotton Foundation President Don Cameron, a Helm, CA, producer, said the P.I.E. program is an outstanding way to encourage U.S. cotton producers to maximize their production efficiency and speed up the adoption of proven farm technology and practices.
"The participants get a unique opportunity to ask questions and interact with their peers to gain a deeper understanding about what works and doesn’t work," Cameron said."
The nine Western cotton producers will spend the first two days in Alabama’s Tennessee Valley. On July 13 they will visit Mike Tate’s farming operation near Huntsville and take individual farm tours in that area. The next day’s activities include a look at nitrogen by-product usage at Isbell Farms in Tuscumbia, a visit to Spruell Farms in Mount Hope, a tour of the Servico Gin in Courtland hosted by NCC Chairman Bobby Greene and individual farm tours in the western part of the state’s Tennessee Valley region.
On the 15th, the group will tour Avondale Mills’ Alexander City (AL) plant; visit Swift Spinning in Columbus, GA; and go on more individual farm tours in the Bronwood, GA, area. On the 16th, the group will seed cotton and vegetable production at DeWitt Produce Company and cotton, tobacco and produce production on Wavell Robinson Farms in the Albany, GA, area. They also will see Southeast farm trials at the Southeast Expo, and view cotton and peanut production McLendon and Webb Farms in Leary, GA.
The tour concludes on the 16th with a visit to Pinecliff Growers, Inc. in Camilla, GA, for a look at cotton, peanut, vegetable and swine production.
The 2003 P.I.E. program also will include cotton producers from Oklahoma and Texas traveling to Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi July 26-31; producers from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia touring California Aug. 2-7; and producers from Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee visiting Texas Aug. 9-14.
Upon completion of the 2003 tours, the P.I.E. program will have exposed nearly 700 U.S. cotton producers to innovative production practices and technology in regions different than their own.