MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Fifteen cotton producers from the Southeast and Far West U.S. cotton production regions will see cotton and other agriculture-related operations in Texas on August 14-18 as part of the 2017 National Cotton Council’s (NCC) Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.).
Sponsored by Bayer’s grant to The Cotton Foundation, the P.I.E. program is in its 29th year of helping its U.S. cotton producer participants improve yields and fiber quality. The program has exposed more than 1,100 U.S. cotton producers to innovative production practices in regions different than their own. Specifically, the program helps producers improve their overall farming operation efficiency by: 1) gaining new perspectives in such fundamental practices as land preparation, planting, fertilization, pest control, irrigation and harvesting and 2) observing firsthand the unique ways in which their peers are using current technology. The NCC's Member Services staff, in conjunction with local producer interest organizations, conducts the program, including participant selection.
The tour participants are: Alabama – Phil Ashley, Fort Payne; Liz Rhodes, Guin; Justin Smedley, Gadsden; and Adam Wilson, Jacksonville; Florida – Nick Marshall, Baker; Georgia – Dillard Cody, Damascus; and Win Rentz, Newton; North Carolina – Alex Britton and Justin Burgess, both of Conway; Virginia – Jamie Babb, Windsor; and Jameson Lowe, Wakefield; and California – Corky Pedretti, El Nido; Matt Burns and Eric Fontana, both of Dos Palos; and Wyatt McKean, Riverdale.
The tour will begin on August 14 in Lubbock where the group will get an overview of the Texas High Plains from Plains Cotton Growers Executive Vice President Steve Verett, a presentation on Texas water issues/Ogallala Aquifer from Ronnie Hopper, a Petersburg cotton producer; and a report on the e3 Sustainable Cotton Program at Bayer’s Seeds Innovation Center.
The group then will travel to Brownfield for tours of Nick Seaton’s and Anthony Ferguson’s farms where they will see cotton production as well as production of black eyed peas, peanuts and wine grapes. They will end the day with a visit to Cotton Creek Farms in New Home and tours of other cotton farms in the area.
On August 15, the group will see cotton production on Smith Farms in Floydada; get a presentation on High Plains farm equipment at Hurst Farm Supply in Lorenzo; and then tour PYCO and Farmers Cooperative Compress in Lubbock.
The next two days will be spent in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley.
On August 16, the group will begin their day in Mercedes with a look at ginning at the Ross Gin Company before observing sugar cane processing at Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers in Santa Rosa. They also will hear a presentation on trans-shipment of cotton to Mexico at Colimar International’s warehouse in Alamo before touring Rio Farms in Monte Alto and visiting other farms in that area.
On August 17, the producers will begin their tour in Harlingen with visits to Valley Coop Oil Mill and then to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality where they will learn about water delivery from the Rio Grande river. They also will visit the Hidalgo Water District #5 Rio Grande River Lift Station, see agricultural traffic at the Progreso International Bridge; and tour Chris Bauer Farms and the Frank Russell Farm, both near San Benito. The group’s tour will end at the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation in Harlingen with an update on the status of boll weevil eradication in the Rio Grande Valley.