In spite of years of experience producing cotton crops on their farms in the Southeast, producers participating in the National Cotton Council's Producer Information Exchange (PIE) Tour in Texas last week are going home with new ideas about solving old problems and current farming challenges.

"This tour was overwhelming to me to come out to this part of the country and see how massive the cotton operations are out here. We share many of the same problems in Virginia as they do here in Texas with some differences, of course, but seeing how they handle some of those problems in Texas has been a good experience," says producer Wyatt Cox, who grows cotton near Waverly, Virginia, in the southeast part of the state.

Cox says the PIE tour is a good program and hopes that one day he can send his son on the tour to share and compare ideas on how to produce better, high-yielding cotton.

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"My Dad came on this same tour about 15 years ago and we sat down and talked about what I might be able to learn by participating in the program. While things have changed, and even though we grow the same crops, I found it interesting to see how they approach things a little differently here," said Dean Hutto, Holly Hill, South Carolina, cotton farmer. "I saw a lot of drip irrigation here while I use pivot irrigation on my farm, and in Corpus Christi, especially, the sheer size of everything blew my mind. It [the tour] has been beneficial to me as a producer."

Fourteen growers in all from the Southeast participated in the Texas leg of the PIE Tour, a comprehensive program devised by the National Cotton Council to give cotton producers nationwide an opportunity to share information and production methods with their counterparts in other states and regions.

"The ultimate goal of the tour is to help these farmers learn how others are handling some of the same problems and challenges they face on their own farms with the end result being the ability to produce a better and higher yielding crop while keeping input costs down as much as possible. This is a program that helps the cotton industry get better at what we do best," said National Cotton Council member representative Rick King from Lubbock, who along with member representative Dwight Jackson in Corpus Christi hosted the Texas leg of the tour.

Jackson said the PIE Tour is designed to help cotton producers boost their overall operational efficiency by gaining new perspectives in fundamental practices like land preparation, planting, fertilization, pest control, irrigation and harvesting while discovering and sharing unique ways to utilize new technology and methods.