For the 30th year, National Cotton Council, through its Producer Information Exchange or P.I.E. program, brought cotton producers together from various regions of the U.S. to share ideas and learn from one another Eleven growers from Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama and Tennessee traveled to Texas, visiting four different regions of the state, seeing various commodities from cotton to cucumbers to sugarcane and grapes to sunflowers and sesame. While in Texas, they visited farms, cotton gins and warehouses, a fertilizer plant, the King Ranch and even the steel wall that lies along the U.S./Mexico border.
An Essex, Mo., grower, when asked what he learned most about Texas agriculture on this tour, says, "How little water Texas growers have," says Chris Porter, who receives about 50 inches of annual rainfall a year. "It's bad enough they don't have much water available, but it's actually going away really fast. And they utilize it the best way they can — they are always working to make it a better situation, to keep it but not use it up."
MID-SOUTH COTTON GROWER: Chris Porter, a cotton grower from Essex, Mo., looks at corn grown on the South Plains near Plainview, Texas.
Porter says one practice he learned about on the tour that he hopes to implement at home is the use of drip irrigation. "I think it's something we could definitely use. It's something everyone could use to mange water much better."
In August, National Cotton Council also hosted groups from the Far West and Southwest regions in the Mid-South states of Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee and Southeast producers in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The tours are sponsored by Bayer.