The 2001 Beltwide Cotton Production Conference's general session will feature the most intensive involvement ever by U.S. cotton industry members, especially producers.

Twenty innovative producers from across the Cotton Belt are scheduled to share their insights on 1) the future of cotton breeding and improvement, 2) technology's role in least-cost cotton systems, 3) the role of fiber quality and 4) trends in cotton marketing.

The four panel discussions included in the meeting, Jan. 10-11 in Anaheim, Calif., also will feature ginners, merchants, cooperative officials and one textile manufacturer along with research, Extension and allied industry representatives.

That session is part of the 2001 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, which are being held under a theme of "Possibilities, Progress, Promise, Jan. 9-13. The National Cotton Council (NCC) is the primary forum coordinator.

"The growers on our program planning team wanted to hear about technology, technology and more technology and ways it could be used to reduce their inputs," said program coordinator Anne Wrona, who serves as the NcC's manager, cotton agronomy and physiology. "This conference will look at new technologies, such as trancgenics, and at some variations of older technologies with the aim of improving the overall use of farm resources and moving growers forward to profitability."

Wrona said that while agronomic practices will be the forum's cornerstone, emphasis also will be given to ways for improving fiber quality and marketing efforts.

On Jan. 10, Lake Providence, La., producer Donna Winters will moderate a panel on which her neighbor, cotton producer Jack Hamilton, will be joined by a seed breeder, geneticists and seed company representatives in a discussion on how to ensure that needed cotton varieties are brought to market.

Another group that morning will discuss the use of conservation tillage, gin process control, irrigation, row spacing, sod-based rotations, transgenics, precision agriculture and other technologies under development as means of least-cost cotton production and sound stewardship of resources. On that panel, moderated by NCC Board Chairman Ron Rayner, an Arizona cotton producer, will be El Campo, Texas, ginner Jimmy Roppolo and producers: Ted Sheely, Lemoore, Calif.; Ken Van Loben Sels, Los Banos, Calif.; Mark Williams, Farwell, Texas; Kenneth Hood, Gunnison, Miss.; and Joseph Boddiford, Sylvania, Ga.

On Jan. 11, producers Wiley Murphy, Tucson, Ariz.; Eddie Smith, Ralls, Texas; Larry McClendon, Marianna, Ark.; and Louie Perry, Jr., Moultrie, Ga.; will join ginners Michael Hooper, Buttonwillow, Calif., and Van Murphy, Quitman, Ga., and textile manufacturer, Harding Stowe, Belmont, N.C., for a panel discussion of how agronomic and ginning practices affect fiber quality. Alabama producer Jimmy Sanford will moderate.

Another panel that day, moderated by Texas producer William Lovelady, will cover today's evolving marketing tools and services and what changes can be expected. Joining Gilliam, La., producer Danny Logan will be cooperative executive Bruce Groefsema, Bakersfield, Calif., and merchants Edward Price, Kinston, N.C.; Robert Weil, Montgomery, Ala.; and John Mitchell, Memphis, Tenn.

Also featured in the general session will be: 1) opening remarks by NCC President Robert McLendon, a Leary, Ga., producer who will talk about progress in technology; 2) a report on Bt refugia for 2001 by Clarkedale, Ark., producer Allen Helms; and 3) Memphis merchant William B. Dunavant, Jr.'s insight into cotton's global marketplace. Other key reports that morning will focus on: the possibilities for transgenics, risk management tools/strategies for producers and Cotton Incorporated's production research by Corcoran, Calif., producer James Hansen.

The production conference's afternoon special sessions will focus on harvest aids, Bt cotton resistance management, cotton yield monitors, options hedging, farm management/finances, new developments from industry, crop insurance and E commerce. Workshops will be held on crop management problem solving, the World Wide Web of Cotton and the Internet, which will include free time to navigate.

The conferences also feature The Cotton Foundation technical exhibits and the 12 cotton research conferences, which will convene Jan. 12-13 in both the Hilton Anaheim and the Anaheim Marriott hotels.

The Beltwide Cotton Conferences bring cotton producers and other industry members together with others who have a stake in a healthy U.S. cotton production sector, including university and USDA researchers, Extension personnel, consultants and allied product and service providers.

Bill Norman has been named director of the National Cotton Council's (NCC) ginner services. Norman, who will work out of NCC's headquarters in Memphis, also will serve as the executive vice president of the National Cotton Ginners Association (NCGA).

Fred Johnson, who previously held the ginner posts, was recently named the NCC's director of administration and assistant to the executive vice president.

Norman, currently a consulting engineer, is a graduate of Texas A&M University and holds bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in agricultural engineering. He was employed by Continental Eagle Corp. from 1981-1995, achieving the position of vice president before leaving to begin his own technical consulting company, C&P Associates. That firm has been providing agricultural and industrial businesses with technical consulting services.

Norman has been involved in several NCGA programs, including the regional gin schools. He also is involved in a third-generation family farming operation that produces cotton, wheat, grain sorghum and other crops in Floyd and Crosby counties in West Texas.