MEMPHIS, TN – Cotton producers from the Southwest will visit operations in Arizona and California on July 8-12 during the first tour of the 2007 Cotton Foundation Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.) Program. They 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 from peers in the Cotton Belt’s different regions. The program’s overall goal is to improve yields and fiber quality in each participating region. After this year’s tours, the 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.
On this year’s first tour, 10 cotton producers from the Southwest region will visit Arizona and California. They include: Jarod C. Abernathy, Altus, OK; Jacob J. Gerik, Aquilla, TX; Brian Kellog, Dill City, OK; Joshua A. Rieder, Sinton, TX; Israel Salazar Jr., Raymondville, TX; David Stubblefield, Colorado City, TX; James A. Synatschk, Sudan, TX; Dereck Totten, Oxford, KS; John Wilde, San Angelo, TX; and Paul Mizenmayer, Rowenda, TX.
The group will get an orientation after they arrive in Arizona on July 8. The tour will begin the next day with a visit to Southwest Specialty Foods in Goodyear followed by tours of Accomazzo Farms in Tolleson and Ak-Chin Farms in Maricopa. They also will tour the USDA Arid Lands Research Center in Maricopa.
On July 11 in Fresno, CA, the participants will hear a presentation from the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association and then tour the Bayer CropScience Research Facility. Following an overview of California water at the Errotabere Ranches office in Riverdale, individual tours with local cotton growers will be taken. On July 12, the group will get a presentation of the Tulare Lake bottom area at the Gilkey Farms office in Corcoran followed by individual tours with local growers. They also will tour the Nichols Pistachio & Almond processing plant.
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 Western region will be given the opportunity to learn from Southwestern operations July 22-27, when they visit Texas.