BY BILL ROBERTSON
NATIONAL COTTON COUNCIL
The 2014 Beltwide Cotton Conferences (BWCC) were planned with the overall goal of supporting research and Extension efforts that bolster the U.S. cotton production system.
Held last month in New Orleans, the 2014 Beltwide focused on research of new and existing products/technology and extending that valuable information to cotton consultants, ginners and other industry researchers. I believe this forum provided a unique way for consultants, Extension, allied industry and others to stay abreast of all major production issues and the opportunity to increase their networking with ag experts.
This networking will expand their resources during upcoming crop seasons so they can better help industry members in making critical production and harvesting decisions. In addition, the conferences increased researchers’ awareness of emerging issues, helping speed development of new and improved tools and production/processing systems.
Coordinated by the National Cotton Council, the condensed 2014 Beltwide Cotton Conferences attracted 1,460 registered attendees. All participants were given the opportunity to attend a day and half Consultants Conference or Technical Conference sessions.
In the Consultants Conference, there was much discussion regarding the extenuating circumstances on the efficacy of seed treatment products in 2013, particularly with regard to thrips. Also of interest were the new 2,4-D and dicamba-tolerant cottons. Numerous papers related to these herbicides and their potential uses were presented.
Among other highly relevant topics discussed were target leaf spot, which has emerged as a problem in the Southeast and Mid-South; nematode control; on-farm variety testing; irrigation and plant growth regulator interaction; irrigation instrumentation/data collection for help in scheduling; alternative nitrogen products; and how cotton production is being affected by today’s various crop rotation scenarios.
Another issue of significance to crop protection – pollinator protection – also was addressed by Dr. Don Parker, the Council’s manager, Integrated Pest Management. He told Consultants Conference attendees that the Council continues to be highly involved in pollinator protection activities that challenge crop protection product usage.
Cotton producers and other stakeholders are urged to read more about the bee health decline issue in a document Dr. Parker prepared. Interested parties can find this report at www.cotton.org/issues/2014/beech-al.cfm.
The 2014 Beltwide Cotton Conferences’ recorded presentations will be posted by mid-February at www.cotton.org/beltwide/ and its proceedings distributed to attendees about mid-May. Meanwhile, programming planning already has begun for the 2015 Beltwide to be held January 5-7 at San Antonio’s Marriott Rivercenter and Riverwalk hotels. Like previous Belt-wides, this ag forum will benefit from the cooperation of USDA re-searchers, university researchers and Extension agents, crop consultants, the Cotton Foundation’s agri-business member firms, news media and other cotton organizations.
Bill Robertson is manager of cotton agronomy/soils and physiology for the National Cotton Council and serves as the BWCC coordinator.