Cotton growers tour the south

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 14, 2007

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—Cotton producers from the Southeast traveled to the Mid-South, visiting operations in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi in early August for the third tour of the 2007 Cotton Foundation Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.) Program.

The visiting producers were 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, an Arizonza 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, eleven cotton producers from the Southeastern region will join the tour. Participants include:

North Carolina producers David A. Baker, Rich Square; Noah B. Burgess, Conway; and Derick Tetterton, Pantego; Alabama producers Jeff Jones, New Market; Robert H. Nicholson Jr., Town Creek; and David Womack, Atmore.The tour also includes Georgia producer Jeremy Gay, Matthews; as well as Scott O’Neal, Bennettsville, SC; Alan J. Edwards, Jay, FL; and Jared Webb, Yale, VA.

When the tour starts on July 30 in Louisiana, the group will tour farms in the Tensas Parish area. The next day the participants will tour the Cottonseed Extruder Plant at Hollybrook Cottonseed Processing, LLC with host Bobby Amacker. The group will then have an overview of the Pepper Processing Plant at Panola Pepper Company followed by farm tours with local producers that same day.

The tour will continue to Dumas, AR on August 1 to survey other resident farms and visit the Arkat Feed Mill and the USDA Classing Office.

There will be several activities the following day in Leland, MS, starting with the Delta Council with a presentation on Delta cotton production from Chip Morgan, the Delta Council executive vice president. The next tour takes place at the Stoneville Research Complex with host Dr. Joe Street, the director of the Delta Research and Extension Center followed by an overview of the Delta Branch Experiment Station. The group also will take individual farm tours in Washington County with hosts Dan Branton, Mark Fratesi, Rick Smythe, George Van Landingham, Paul Dees and Ben Walker. To wrap up the tour on August 3, the group will head to Greenwood, MS, visiting Staplcotn with host Chip Upchurch and seeing Makamson Farms with host Ray Makamson.

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.

Producers from the Mid-South region will be given the opportunity to learn from Southeast operations August 12-17, when they visit Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

News Editors/Assignment Editors: If you need directions to any of the Mid-South tour stops, please contact NCC Member Service Representatives: Mike Turner, 318-366-2978 or Will Choate, 662-907-7390.