Ten Southwestern cotton producers are touring cotton and other agricultural operations in North Carolina and Virginia this week as part of the National Cotton Council’s (NCC) 2014 Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.) program.
Sponsored by Bayer CropScience through a grant to The Cotton Foundation, the P.I.E. is in its 26th year and has exposed more than 1,000 U.S. cotton producers to innovative production practices in Cotton Belt regions different than their own.
Specifically, the program aims to help the cotton producer participants boost their farming 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. The NCC’s Member Services staff, in conjunction with local producer interest organizations, conducts the program, including participant selection.
The Southwest cotton producer participants are: Kansas – Berry Bortz, Preston; Oklahoma – Collin McKinley, Frederick, and Spencer Smith, Elk City; and Texas – Andy Carthel, Friona; Hayden Davis, Welch; Andy Bill Fillingim, New Home; Duke Goodwin, Midland; Brian Hobratschk, Littlefield; Cecil Kalina, Miles; and Richard Lange, Norton.
The group will begin their activities in Raleigh, NC, with an orientation on Monday and a visit the next day to Bayer CropScience’s headquarters for a presentation on “Innovating Technologies with Greenhouses” and a tour of the company’s Bee Care Center. That afternoon, they will travel to Gaston to see cotton production at Dunlow & Dunlow Farms.
On Tuesday, the group will travel to Suffolk, Va., where they will hear about the manufacture of peanut harvesting equipment at Amadas Corporation and tour the Tidewater Research Facility. While in Virginia that day, they also will see country ham curing at Darden’s Country Store in Smithfield and cotton production at Byrum Family Farms and other Windsor area cotton farms.
On Wednesday, back in North Carolina, the group will see wood pellet manufacturing for energy consumption at Enviva’s plant in Northhampton, learn about peanut processing at Baker Southern Tradition Peanuts in Roxobel; tour the Josey Lumber Mill and see Bayer’s new cotton varieties trials at Josey Farms in Scotland Neck before seeing diverse agriculture production at Kent Smith Farms in Rocky Mount. The tour concludes Thursday in North Carolina with a look at seed production and cleaning for commercial use at JP Davenport in Greenville, pickle processing at Mount Olive Pickle in Mount Olive, and observing tobacco, cotton, sweet potato and swine production at Warren Brothers Farms in Newton Grove.