Southern cotton farmers to see California agriculture


Twelve cotton producers from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida will observe cotton and other agricultural operations in California’s San Joaquin Valley on July 22-25 as part of the National Cotton Council’s 2012 Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.) Program.

Sponsored by Bayer CropScience through a grant to The Cotton Foundation, the P.I.E. program is now in its 24th year of helping its U.S. cotton producer participants improve yields and fiber quality.  Specifically, the program aims to help cotton producers boost their overall operation’s 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 innovative peers are using current technology.

In this first of four 2012 P.I.E. tours, the group will begin their activities on July 23 in Fresno with a briefing from the California Cotton Ginners/Growers Association and then a tour of Bayer CropScience’s research facility. They also will tour Don Cameron’s Terra Nova Ranch in Helm and visit other cotton producers’ operations in the Tranquillity area.

The next day, the group will see Gilkey Enterprises’ cotton operations in Corcoran before traveling to Hanford to tour the Nichols Farms Pistachio Plant and visiting other cotton producers’ operations.  On the 25th, the participants will tour the Quady Winery in Madera and the Morning Star Tomato Processing Plant in Los Banos before meeting with area cotton producers at Delta Farms.

The participating cotton producers are Virginia – West Drake, Newsoms; North Carolina – Scott Bowen and Stephen Lilley, Jr., both from Williamston, and Matt Whitehead, Scotland Neck; South Carolina – Daniel Baxley, Dillon; Georgia – Jay Hart, Jr., Smithville, Mike Lucas, Chester, and Jeff Wilson, Rebecca; Alabama – Jim Greene, Courtland, and Crawford Jones and Will Sanford, both from Prattville; and Florida – James Marshall, Baker.1

The other P.I.E. tours will see Southwest producers going to Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri on July 29-August 3; Far West producers visiting Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina on August 5-10; and Mid-South producers touring Texas on August 19-24.

Upon completion of this year’s four tours, the P.I.E. program will have exposed more than 1,000 U.S. cotton producers to innovative production practices in regions different than their own.