A group of 13 cotton producers from Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee will observe cotton and other agriculture operations in California’s San Joaquin Valley on July 18-20, as part of the 2011 Producer Information Exchange (PIE) Program.

The program, sponsored by Bayer CropScience through a grant to The Cotton Foundation, is coordinated by the NCC and now in its 23rd year of helping its cotton producer participants improve yields and fiber quality. The PIE program enables cotton producers to improve yields and fiber quality along with boosting 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 new and existing technology.

Tour participants include: Arkansas – Phil Neri, Jr., Marion; and Woody Ray, Jr., Marked Tree; Louisiana – Thomas Crigler, St. Joseph; Marshall Hardwick, Newellton; and Colter Roy, Morganza; Mississippi – Gary Bailey, Tunica; Will Fratesi, Greenville; Will Long, Indianola; and Michael Thompson, II, Greenwood; Missouri – Chad Parker, Sikeston; and Tennessee – Eugene Pugh, III, Halls; Hedrick Shoaf, Medina; and Bob Walker, Somerville.

Their tour will begin on July 18 with a briefing from the California Cotton Ginners/Growers Assoc. in Fresno before touring the Enns Packing/King Fresh Produce facilities nearby. They also will see almond production and get a briefing from the Central California Almond Growers Assoc. in Kerman. The next day, they will see Gilkey Enterprises’ cotton operations and other Corcoran area farms before touring Terra Nova Ranch in Helm and other cotton farms in that area. The tour will conclude on July 20 with visits to the Quady Winery in Madera and to the Morning Star tomato processing operation and Delta Farms, both in Los Banos.

The other three tours will have Far West producers traveling to Louisiana and Mississippi on July 31-Aug. 5; Southwest producers visiting Georgia, Alabama and Florida on Aug. 7-12; and Southeast producers seeing operations in W. Texas/S. Texas on Aug. 21-26. Upon completion of this year’s tours, PIE will have exposed more than 900 U.S. producers to innovative production practices in regions other than their own.