MEMPHIS, TN – Cotton producers from the Mid-South will travel to Southeast states, visiting operations in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida August 12-17 for the fourth and final tour of the 2007 Cotton Foundation Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.) Program. The visiting producers 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, fosters 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, ten cotton producers from the Mid-South region will visit the Southeast. Participants include: Arkansas producers: Jed Anderson, Haynes; Dave Parten, Marianna; Nathan B. Reed, Marianna; and Chad A. Russell, Marianna. Louisiana Producers: Peter C. DeKeyser, Alexandria; and Patrick C. Glass, Newellton. Mississippi Producers: Robert W. Farmer Jr., Cruger; and T. Michael Sides, Tunica; as well as Missouri producer Allen Below, Parma; and Tennessee producer David McDaniel, Brighton.
The group will arrive in Pensacola, FL, on August 12 and begin the tour with an overview of Cotton Production in the Southeast. On August 13, the group will tour a Bayer Crop Science Research Facility in Milano, FL, for a presentation cotton improvement research. Later that day, they will visit Baldwin Sod Farm in Huxford, AL, followed by a tour of the Tri County Peanut Company for an overview of peanut merchandising. The day will end with local farm tours in the Donalsonville, GA, area.
The next day, the group will head to Pavo, GA, to tour Tim Crosby Farms and see tobacco harvesting, followed by a tour of Wavell Robinson Farms to focus on tobacco, cotton, and vegetable production. They also will tour S.L. Perry Farms for an overview of irrigation in South Georgia. That afternoon, the group will arrive in Moultrie to tour the Southeast Ag Expo showcasing the South’s Premier Farm Show, followed by a stop in Tifton to at agricultural equipment manufacturer, Kelly Manufacturing Company. To end the day, the group will tour local farms in Alapaha.
On August 15, the group will tour McNair Farms in Camilla for an overview of cotton, sweet corn and livestock production. The next stop leads to McLendon and Webb Farms in Leary for a look at irrigation of cotton and peanuts. To wrap up the day, the group will visit Ronnie Lee Farms in Bronwood, GA, and see cotton, peanut, corn and livestock production, followed by local farm tours. The following day includes an overview of shelling peanuts at the McClesky Peanut Mill in Smithfield; tour the CB Coley Gin in Vienna; and tour local farm tours. On the last day, they will hear a presentation on the manufacturing and production of Temik at a plant in Woodbine.
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 summer, the 2007 P.I.E. Program also featured producers from the Southeast traveling to the Mid-South region to visit and learn from local farms and operations in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi.