Three cotton producers from Georgia joined nine other producers from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida to tour cotton and other agricultural operations in California’s San Joaquin Valley on July 22 through25th as part of the National Cotton Council’s 2012 Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.) Program. The Georgia growers included Jay Hart, Jr. of Smithville, Mike Lucas of Chester, and Jeff Wilson from Rebecca.
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 began 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 toured Don Cameron’s Terra Nova Ranch in Helm and visited other cotton producers’ operations in the Tranquillity area.
The next day, the group saw Gilkey Enterprise’s cotton operations in Corcoran before traveling to Hanford where they toured the Nichols Farms Pistachio Plant and visiting other cotton producers’ operations. On the 25th, they toured the Quady Winery in Madera and the Morning Star Tomato Processing Plant in Los Banos before they met with area cotton producers at Delta Farms.
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.