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- PRODUCTION -

John Pucheu Addresses BWCC
In Nashville


 
Despite numerous challenges on several fronts, National Cotton Council chairman John Pucheu sounded an optimistic note for U.S. cotton in his address to the Beltwide Cotton Production Conference last month in Nashville, Tenn.

Pucheu, a California producer, says it will be critically important for the industry to continue to embrace research, education and technology to achieve profitable cotton production and processing.

The NCC chairman pointed to trade, farm legislation and regulatory issues as being the key areas where the Council has focused its attention in the past year.

Although the Senate-House conference committee has yet to deliver a bill to President Bush for his signature, Pucheu says many important components of cotton programs were retained in both congressional bills.

On the trade front, he reviewed WTO issues – in particular the Brazil case, which was brought against U.S. cotton programs. Following the release of the WTO decision in that case, the NCC urged the U.S. Trade Ambassador to appeal the decision.

The Council chairman reiterated that the U.S. cotton industry will continue to fight unfair rulings brought against the industry in these WTO cases.

Industry Hopes To Retain Important Industry Recommendations

Despite the fact that the new Farm Bill hasn’t been signed by President Bush, NCC officials remain hopeful that several important components will be retained by the House-Senate conference committee.

John Maguire, NCC vice president of Washington operations, reported on the timetable for when the conference committee will iron out details and send the bill to the President for his signature or even veto.

Maguire says that the House and Senate commodity titles included provisions that were recommended by NCC leaders to improve market orientation, competitiveness, while offering some kind of assistance to U.S. textile manufacturers.

Maguire, however, warned that even with the inclusion of these important components, there will likely be significant changes in payment rules and regulations. Both the House and Senate bills eliminate the three-entity rule while allowing spouses to qualify as separate persons for payment limits.

While the NCC has joined other commodity organizations in urging prompt passage of the bill, it could be early February before work is finished. Maguire says Acting Ag Secretary Charles Conner, speaking for the Bush Administration, has said the President may veto the bill because it fails to achieve needed reform.

“Council leaders will continue to work closely with Congressional leaders to make sure that the new legislation includes provisions that allow the industry to adjust to new market conditions,” Maguire added. “This is important for cotton’s future.”

Cotton Competes For Acreage In New Production Environment

Even with cotton acreage shifts into corn and grains, NCC economist Gary Adams says there are encouraging signs that economic factors could limit the decrease in cotton acreage.

First, according to Adams, because of significant acreage shifts that cotton producers and ginners had to deal with in ‘07, it’s possible that there will be a reluctance to make further reductions in ‘08 and beyond.

The NCC economist also notes that in a number of areas, crop insurance data show that there may be shifts of 50,000 acres out of cotton and into grains. However, he says, much of the ‘08 adjustment may occur on the same acres. In other words, acres shifting from grain may move into a double crop of wheat and soybeans.

Adams further stated that if current estimates are accurate, the ‘07 marketing year will be the first in five years with global consumption significantly above production. Even if a slowdown in demand occurs in ’08, that relationship will continue.

Worsham Discusses Importance Of Sustainability

Cotton Incorporated president/CEO Berrye Worsham gave an update to the Beltwide Production Conference on his organization’s continuing efforts at research, developing data and communicating cotton’s improvements in the area of sustainability.

“If the day comes when the eco-issues are important in the consumer buying process for apparel and home textiles, we want cotton positioned as the “eco-choice” for consumers,” he says. “In this process, we want to avoid costly certification and undue regulatory constraints.”

Worsham also pointed to efforts by the NCC and Cotton Council International in conjunction with corn, wheat and soybean associations and technology providers to make sure that sound science and not preconceived opinions drive private organizations’ defining of sustainability standards.

CCI Aims To Increase Demand

Cotton Council International president Michael Adams was the keynote speaker at a special CCI Beltwide media breakfast.

He re-emphasized the importance of building demand for U.S. cotton in key global markets. Adams said global demand for cotton has risen more than 36 million bales since 2000, and export demand for U.S. cotton fiber has responded to that environment by increasing to an estimated 16.2 million bales in 2007 – a 140 percent increase from 2000.

“No one has done more than the U.S. cotton industry in stimulating demand and bringing attention to the importance of cotton in the global economy,” says Adams.

“CCI will continue to partner with Cotton Incorporated and local industry to find ways to keep cotton attractive and interesting to the consumer, particularly in major developing countries like India and China where overall fiber demand will grow strongly at both the mill and consumer levels.”

Paterson Receives Genetics Award

Dr. Andrew H. Paterson, a research professor in the University of Georgia’s Crop and Soil Sciences and Genetics departments, is the recipient of the ‘07 Cotton Genetics Research Award. He was recognized during the Beltwide Cotton Improvement Conference and received $1,000.

Paterson is an internationally recognized authority in plant genomics, and his contributions to cotton genetics, genomics, cytogenetics and breeding have been significant.

Lemon Wins Specialist Award

Robert G. Lemon, professor and Texas AgriLife Extension Service agronomist for cotton with Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, was recognized as the 2007 Extension Cotton Specialist of the Year.

Lemon received the award at the Extension Cotton Specialists’ annual banquet. Sponsored by Bayer CropScience, the award and banquet have been a featured event at the Beltwide Cotton Conferences since 1984. Extension cotton specialists representing every cotton-producing state select a recipient annually based on leadership and industry service.

Travis Miller, professor, Texas AgriLife Extension program leader and associate head of the Soil and Crop Science Department at Texas A&M University, has worked with Lemon since he was a graduate student at TAMU.

“Whatever is happening in cotton, Robert is on top of it,” he says. “He coordinates well with other specialists around the state. Robert has the best interests of cotton and cotton farmers at heart, and I couldn’t be more pleased for him.”

Bayer Promotes New Strategy For Serving Cotton Producers

Bayer CropScience officially launched its new “Bayer Season” program aimed at offering a complete portfolio of products to producers from planting to harvest.

John Smith, Bayer CropScience marketing director, and Lee Rivenbark, director of U.S. cotton operations, spelled out details at a press conference in Nashville and how the “Bayer Season” will build a foundation for improved cotton profitability.

“This company has unmatched products, people and innovations to help cotton producers build the best foundation possible for profitable productions,” says Smith.

He says Bayer’s lineup of FiberMax, Stoneville and AFD varieties boasts a range of quality germplasm with the best traits.

Rivenbark says producers also can protect their cottonseed investment from a host of insect, nematode and disease pests with Temik, Aeris and Trilex.

“We’re there for the producer, and we think we have the tools to build that important relationship with him,” he added. “Let’s just call it one stop shopping.”

At the same media briefing, Bayer officials also announced the company’s 2008 Shared Risk Program for producers. The program includes: replanting with FiberMax, Stoneville and/or AFD cotton seed; re-treating cottonseed varieties originally planted with Aeris, Temik, Trilex or Gaucho Grande; crop loss for LibertyLink technology and for using Ignite herbicide on LibertyLink cotton; and use of Stance plant growth regulator on FiberMax, Stoneville and AFD lost to crop loss.

Cotton Fungicide Registered

In a special Consultants’ Update, BASF announced that Headline fungicide is now the first fully registered foliar fungicide for cotton. Target foliar cotton diseases indicated on the label include foliar and boll rot diseases, such as Alternaria leaf spot, anthracnose, Ascochyta blight, Cercospora blight and leaf spot, Diplodia boll rot, hard lock, Phoma blight, rust and Stemphyllium leaf spot.

“We’ve evaluated the effects and benefits of Headline and its potential uses in cotton for several years,” says Scott Asher, BASF technical services manager. “Some of the benefits we’ve seen in other crops are conveyed to cotton. We’ve also seen the same response in terms of overall plant health leading into nice yield increases.”

Application timing depends on the area in which you are growing your cotton and variety type, he says. If you have an early to mid-season picker variety in the mid-Delta north or the Southwest, the best timing has been 10 to 14 days after initial bloom.

“We’re trying to protect those leaves and protect the plant from disease during that peak reproductive time,” Asher explains.

For the full season varieties that tend to bloom slowly initially, the application window to apply Headline is 15 to 28 days after initial bloom.

“Typically, 20 to 24 days after initial bloom appears to be the best timing,” Asher says.

The labeled use-rate range is from six to 12 ounces. Asher says six ounces has been the ideal rate as long as it is a preventative-type application. There is a 12-hour re-entry period and a 30-day pre-harvest interval.

“One of the nicest benefits of using Headline fungicide on cotton,” Asher notes, “is that it is an ideal tank mix partner with an herbicide, insecticide or a PGR application.”

MANA Launches New Campaign

Mana Crop Protection officials hosted a media breakfast and gave an update on the company’s portfolio of products as well as their philosophy for servicing cotton producers.

MANA has a long history of providing generic insecticides, herbicides, PGRs and harvest aids to cotton producers. Its current portfolio contains more than 50 branded, value-priced products across a broad segment of crops.

In an effort to raise awareness of the company’s long-standing relationship with cotton producers, MANA officials showcased new efforts at educating the public on the actual availability of these products.

Addressing the cotton ag media at the breakfast meeting were: Dave Downing (senior product manager-herbicides), Brian Ahrens (senior product manager-insecticides) and Troy Bettner (senior product manager-PGRs/fungicides).

“In our opinion, there is no such thing as a minor crop segment,” says Downing. “Where there is grower need, MANA stands ready to offer its support and expertise.”

The Impact Of Sustainability

During a special Cotton Board press conference, three industry leaders explained how sustainability is affecting their business operations.

Peter McGrath, EVP and director, private brands, product development, quality and sourcing for J.C. Penney Company, Inc., said the company will look to the European Union (EU) for what lies ahead since the EU has been into sustainability for quite a while. The key, he said, is to listen to your customers.

Penney’s studies indicate that the customer wants fashion without sacrificing quality, value-priced goods and innovative products with environmental and social benefits. “Above all,” McGrath says, “they want to feel and look good wearing our product. With that in mind, next to Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney is the largest user of cotton.”

Like many other retailers, J.C. Penney is trying to be more environmentally conscious. For example, in some of their products, they are using recycled cotton and cotton/polyester blends with the polyester coming from recycled plastic bottles.

Also, 100 percent of its truck fleet has been converted to effective low emissions diesel.

Arkansas’ Danny Moore Honored

Danny Moore of Marion, Ark., was honored as “Cotton Consultant of the Year” at a special reception at the Stockyard restaurant in Nashville.

The award, sponsored by Syngenta and Cotton Farming magazine, is presented to a consultant nominated and voted on by his peers. This is the 26th consecutive year a consultant has been honored.

Moore, who began his consulting career in 1990, is a graduate of Arkansas State University and offers crop advice on corn, cotton, rice and soybeans.

In attendance at the reception were consultants from across the Cotton Belt, including many previous winners of the award. Moore’s wife Paula, their three sons and his mother all attended the event.

“It’s a humbling experience, but it’s also an award that I will cherish for the rest of my life,” said Moore in accepting the award from Syngenta’s Patrick Ewan and Cotton Farming publisher Lia Guthrie.

Consultants Confer On Key Issues

For the first time in history, a portion of the Beltwide Cotton Conferences was devoted to a special session for cotton consultants.

More than 150 persons attended the general session for this group. Key topics discussed at the event were: variety selection, insect management, insect control strategies, weed management and herbicide programs.

Roger Leonard of the Louisiana State University Ag Center in Winnsboro, La., also gave a preview of the new eXtension Web site, which is being launched this spring as a complete source of information for consultants.

“This conference certainly fills a need for consultants who are there on the front lines delivering information and recommendations to farmers,” says Bill Robertson, coordinator of the Beltwide Cotton Conferences, and a former Arkansas Extension cotton specialist.

“We hope this event will become an annual meeting for consultants. Anything we can do to facilitate the transfer of information to the farmers is a win-win situation for all parties.”

Producers Discuss Technology

Mississippi producer Kenneth Hood and Missouri producer Charles Parker participated in a panel discussion on the new John Deere and Case IH on-board module harvesting systems.

Parker, who uses the John Deere system, and Hood, who has the Case IH system, answered questions posed to them by Marjory Walker, NCC Communications Director and moderator of the discussion.

Both Parker and Hood said the respective systems help them save on equipment, fuel and labor costs. They also noted that the new technology is completely changing the way they approach harvest season.

“I’ve been pleased with how the system is so compatible with how we accept the modules at the gin,” says Hood. “That’s just one of many pluses that I see in the Case system.”

Parker, who uses the John Deere system that produces round bales, says he also has encountered no problems – including disposal of the plastic covers and the actual transfer of the bales to the gin.

“Anything that might have been perceived as a problem has been resolved,” he said. “I’m just excited that this kind of technology is now available for farmers. I think it will change the way we harvest cotton in a major way. This is a classic case of technology that is having an impact on farming.”


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