Scott Kohne

Growers Go Coast to Coast for Innovative Farming Tips

As a grower, you are always looking for ways to improve your operations by making practices more efficient, sustainable and profitable. What if you had the chance to observe and gain new perspectives from producers halfway across the country? You could see how their innovative practices work for them and take back a handful or maybe a suitcase full of knowledge back home with you.

The annual National Cotton Council’s Producer Information Exchange (PIE) Tour allows participants to do just that. Since its inception in 1989, the P.I.E. tours have reached over 1,200 grower leaders in the cotton industry. Bayer has been the sole sponsor of this Cotton Foundation Special Project since 2006, and we look forward to it every year. 

Four Bayer employees including myself, Danielle, Lee, and Brian joined growers on 4 separate tours that spanned coast to coast. 

Here are our stories and an inside look on what was learned:

Mid-South Growers Get Their Start in Research Triangle Park

We kicked off our annual National Cotton Council Producer Information Exchange (PIE) Tours this week in RTP with a group of cotton growers from the mid-south region of the U.S. 

Frank Terhorst, Global Head of Seeds, welcomed the PIE Tour participants and delivered a presentation on our Seeds business, with special attention paid to cotton. It resulted in engaging conversation with the growers about their most pressing needs in the field – like weed control and adaptability. Additionally, Isabelle Coats provided a regulatory overview for biotech seeds and their path to commercialization.

During a tour of our Bee Care Center Sarah Myers described the different pollinators and the agricultural benefits they deliver. Additionally, they described how the varroa mite is the chief pest of bees and the research and product support that Bayer provides to beekeepers. The group also visited Greenhouse 5, where Nathan Clements’ tour focused on plant cultivation and trait characterization. 

Frank Terhort, Global Head of Seeds
PIE Tour participants learn about bee health.

The group spent the rest of this week visiting Cotton Inc., the NC Cotton Growers Cooperative, Mt. Olive Pickle Company and other various other farms and sites throughout North Carolina and South Carolina to learn about innovation practices and agricultural diversity in regions different from their own.

Southeast Growers Learn About Plant Health, Drones and Hot Sauce

For the second leg of our annual Producer Information Exchange Tour, I traveled around Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana with a group of growers from the Southeast. On the first day of the trip, the group visited our greenhouse in Memphis and spoke with experts about the research we’re doing there.

The next day, we went on plot tours of Stoneville Cotton and discussed plant health with some Bayer reps. The next visit in the trip was a learning experience for all of us. We saw hot sauce production behind the scenes at Panola Pepper Co.; they bottle their own products and work with well-known hot sauce companies, too. After that, we all walked through the Louisiana Cotton Museum to get a bit of the history.

The rest of the week included farm tours with local producers and a visit to Somerset Plantation in Louisiana where we learned about irrigation and drones.

We’re Going West!

On July 31st, I accompanied a group of cotton growers from the Southwest region of the U.S. to California for a week of visits to the Cotton Ginners/Growers Association, a tomato processing plant, various local cotton growers and farm tours.

California’s challenges make our cotton industry different from others around the nation, so the tour helps other growers learn what producers deal with out here. There are also similarities in what growers do. It’s all about the land, their familiarity, their relationship with the land and that’s common regardless wherever you go in the country.

I spoke with AG Net about this program during the tour. You can read the full interview on AgNetWest.com.

In the Land of Cotton – Growers Visit Texas

The final week of Producer Information Exchange Tours took growers from Arizona and California through the Texas High Plains, including cities like Lubbock, New Home and Plainview. The tour kicked off with a tour of the Bayer Museum of Ag and our new Seeds Innovation Center in Lubbock.

The entire week consisted of visits with local cotton growers, touring the Edcot Co-op Gin and learning about efficient irrigation methods with the Texas Alliance for Water Conservation. Growing cotton in Texas comes with some challenges, including glyphosate-resistant pigweed and losses from cotton root rot infections. Fortunately, Texas cotton is progressing well and yields are strong this year.

It was a great, hot week full of education, and all participants expressed enthusiastic support and appreciation for the program.

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