Cotton producers from the Mid-South will be exposed to innovative production practices in Arizona and California on June 23-26 during the first tour of the 2008 Cotton Foundation Producer Information Exchange (P.I.E.) Program.

The P.I.E. Program, now in its 20th year, is supported by a grant from Bayer CropScience to the Cotton Foundation. The program 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 overall goal is to improve yields and fiber quality in each participating region.

This year’s Western tour participants are Mississippi producers Marc Archer, Greenwood; Brian Vanlandingham, Greenville; Justin Jefcoat, Itta Bena; and Darrington Seward, Yazoo City; along with Louisiana producers John Carroll, Gilbert; Robbie Duncan, III, Pineville; and Stephen Logan, Gilliam.

The group will get an orientation on June 22 in Arizona. The tour will begin the next day in Phoenix with visits to the USDA Pink Bollworm Lab and the Arizona Cotton Research and Protection Council. They also will tour Sundance Farms in Coolidge and Stoneville Field Varieties in Eloy and then see the Salt River Project on the 24th.

On the 25th in Fresno, Calif., the producers will get an overview of California cotton from the California Cotton Growers & Ginners Association and then tour the Bayer CropScience research facility. They also will tour an almond processing facility in Kerman. On the 26th, the group will visit the Basila Farms Thompson DOV Vineyard and the Quady Winery in Madera and conclude with a visit to the Dos Palos Coop Roller Gin in Minturn and tours of individual cotton farms in the Dos Palos area.

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.

Far Western producers will visit Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee on August 10-15. After the 2008 tours, the P.I.E. program will have exchanged more than 850 individual U.S. cotton producers.