MEMPHIS, TN - Cotton producers from the Far West will travel to the Southwest, visiting operations in Texas, July 22-26 for the second tour of the 2007 Cotton Foundation Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.) Program. They will be exposed to the diverse and innovative practices of the hosting region, providing them with more competitive technology and farming methods.
The P.I.E. Program, now in its 19th year, enables valuable communication between cotton producers and helps them gain new perspectives in land preparation, planting, fertilization, pest control, irrigation and harvesting. The overall goal of the Program is to improve yields and fiber quality in each participating region. After this year’s tours, the P.I.E. program will have exchanged more than 800 individual U.S. cotton producers.
Cotton Foundation President Clyde Sharp, a Roll, AZ, cotton producer and former P.I.E. participant, said the P.I.E. program gives its participants a great opportunity to see something they can take back to their operation and try. He said after his tour in the Carolinas he was impressed with the crop diversity and the environmental conditions those producers contend with in planting the same cotton varieties he was planting. He said he also saw minimum tillage operations and was inspired to try that on his operation.
“And minimum till is developing slowly and surely out here in Arizona,” Sharp said. “I see more and more farmers incorporating that into their operations.”
Sharp, who met several producers during his Carolinas’ tour, also emphasized that the P.I.E. program provides participants a great opportunity not just to meet other producers but to make lasting friendships.
“I feel like I can call these growers anytime and pick their brain about anything,” he said.
This year, eight cotton producers from the Far West region will join the tour. Participants include: Arizona producers Debra Bagnell, Coolidge; Karl J. Button, Casa Grande; D. Louise Clark, Florence; Todd A. Rovey, Buckeye; and California producers Andrew J. Groppetti, San Joaquin; Bryan Bone, Bakersfield; Justin M. Dutra, Hanford; and Stephen J. Fanucchi, Wasco.
On July 23, the tour group will visit the Bayer CropScience Warehouse in Lubbock, TX, to hear a presentation on the Plains Cotton Growers Association by Steve Verett, their executive vice president. They also will hear a presentation on “Texas Cotton Production” and the “Texas Cotton Improvement Program” from Texas A&M researchers, Dr. Randy Bowman and Dr. John Gannaway. They will then tour PYCO industries where the group will focus on cottonseed and its varied uses with hosts, President and Vice President Gail Kring and Robert Lacy. That will be followed by a tour of the Farmer’s Cooperative Compress hosted by Ron Harkey, president and Buddy Melton, vice president. The day will end with a farm tour in the Caprock area with a briefing on “Maximizing Production and Profits with Limited Water.”
The next day the group will begin with a tour of the American Cotton Growers Denim Mill in Littlefield, TX, and then return to Lubbock to visit the Plains Cotton Cooperative Association where president Wally Darneille will lead a presentation on electronic and high technologies in cotton marketing. Later that day in Acuff, TX, the participants will see Mimms Farms and then be led on individual farm tours by local producers.
The group travels to Corpus Christi on July 25 for a tour of the Port of Corpus Christi and a visit to Gulf Compress La Quinta Facility followed by a tour of the Smith Gin. The tour ends the next day with a trip to King Ranch and Farms hosted by Cliett Lowman and then individual farm tours in San Patricio, Nueces, and Kleberg counties.
The P.I.E. Program is facilitated by the National Cotton Council’s Member Services staff, in cooperation with local producer associations in the regions. The Program is supported by a grant from Bayer CropScience to the Cotton Foundation.
Earlier in the month producers from the Southwestern region were given the opportunity to visit Far West operations July 8-12, when they toured Arizona and California.