Cotton's Agenda -
By Larry McClendon
The conferences, set for Jan. 5-8 at the Marriott Rivercenter/Riverwalk hotels in San Antonio, Texas, has a theme of “Improving Our Farm, Future and World.” The Cotton Production Conference’s general session will feature a panel of innovative growers sharing steps they’ve taken to improve their bottom lines, including energy conservation practices and use of alternative energy sources. With the high cost of fuel and other energy related expenses, energy management has become a major factor affecting overall profitability. The more cost-saving methods we can find and share – the better.
Other topics will address the challenges of pest management and crop rotation in today’s evolving production landscape. For example, today’s different crop mixes have led to different insect pests, such as stinkbugs and spider mites, becoming more problematic. Crop rotation influences on key cotton agronomic practices, such as fertility, residue management, pest management and plant growth regulation also will be covered. In addition, attendees will receive a farm law update with an emphasis on conservation provisions and get to hear what’s in the technology pipeline, including seed varieties.
The sharing of innovative practices will continue in workshop roundtable discussions among growers from different regions. Basically, the hallway conversations will be brought into a roundtable format with experts facilitating those Q-and-A discussions. For example, a grower in Texas may want to talk about strip- till farming face-to-face with a grower in the Southeast, where that practice has been used for several years. We believe that participating in these smaller roundtable discussions with more targeted questions and answers will help maximize attendees’ return on investment in attending.
Any other new features?
The Cotton Consultants Conference will be offered for the second year, but a greater effort is being made to target county agents, agribusiness sales/technical representatives and crop input dealers/distributors along with producers who are seeking this type of technical information. This Consultants forum will feature a “scorecard” session where participants can grade themselves on their 2008 best management practices (BMPs) – from seed selection to harvesting management. That same “scorecard” concept also will be offered in a Production Conference workshop where producers can grade themselves on their 2008 BMPs.
The Beltwide offers producers many opportunities for effective networking. Getting just one good piece of information can lead to a more efficient operation. That’s why these conferences are worth the investment to attend.
Instructions for meeting registration/housing reservations, programming updates and general information for the 2009 Beltwide Cotton Conferences are at the redesigned Beltwide website, www.cotton.org/beltwide. I urge all cotton producers to strongly consider attending this event.
Larry McClendon is a Marianna, Ark., producer and ginner currently serving as chairman of the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this page.