Cotton producers can gain valuable insight on practices ranging from pre-emergence weed control systems to precision agriculture at the 2012 Beltwide Cotton Conferences — information that can help them improve their bottom lines.

The National Cotton Council-coordinated forum is set for Jan. 3-6 at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Conference information, including instructions for housing and registration, is available at www.cotton.org/beltwide.

Bill Robertson, the NCC's manager, agronomy, soils and physiology who coordinates the conferences with the oversight of the conferences' steering committee, said the Cotton Production Conference general session will focus on: 1) what went right and wrong in the 2011 growing season, including what was learned from the extreme weather events across the Cotton Belt, 2) proven marketing strategies, 3) new farm policy development and impending regulations, and 4) producing cotton with a changing arsenal of plant protection products.

"These program topics were chosen to help producers deal with the unique challenges they will face in the 2012 growing season," said Kenneth Hood, a Mississippi producer/ginner who chairs the steering committee.

"One of those challenges, for example, will be achieving efficiency and profitability with a declining number of plant protection products. Today's producers are trying to manage cotton with fewer plant protection products coupled with more restrictions on the products that are available."

Timely, useful topics

The Production Conference's workshops will foster interaction between speakers and attendees on the challenges associated with such agronomic practices as: 1) herbicide resistance prevention/management, 2) producing cotton without Temik, 3) insect/weed management strategies when planting conventional varieties and 4) irrigation, with a focus on scheduling.

Among other workshops will be one with entomologists and agronomists discussing their use of social media, such as Facebook and blogging, to disseminate timely information and to gather feedback with the goal of helping improve producers' in-season decision-making.

As in the past, a workshop also will have allied industry representatives talking about new and emerging technology and products such as plant varieties, chemistries, equipment and software.

"The workshops are especially good for posing questions to other cotton producers, researchers, Extension, agribusiness representatives and consultants," says NCC Chairman Charles Parker, a Missouri producer/ginner.

"Overall, I believe the Beltwide gives producers a great opportunity to not only hear what their peers are doing in other parts of the Cotton Belt but talk to them face-to-face about proven farming practices."

The Cotton Consultants Conference will be offered for the fifth consecutive year. It will offer insight gained from the 2011 growing season and a discussion on dealing with weed resistance management, particularly ways to enhance pigweed control, in 2012.

The Beltwide Cotton Conferences also include the Cotton Foundation Technical Exhibits and 13 cotton technical conferences.

The Beltwide Cotton Conferences bring together those with a stake in a healthy U.S. cotton production sector, including cotton industry members, university and USDA researchers, Extension personnel, consultants, and service providers, to share timely information.

Overall, programming is designed to update U.S. cotton producers on new technology, innovative and effective production practices, and key industry issues.