US Cotton Tour delivered a wealth of knowledge | Rabobank AU
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US Cotton Tour delivered a wealth of knowledge

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Over two weeks and across eight states, progressive Australian growers soaked up a wealth of knowledge from leading US cotton producers, researchers and industry experts while on Rabobank’s US Cotton Tour last month.

The tour, hosted by Rabobank’s Cotton Sector Group, kicked off with a visit to Rabo AgriFinance in St Louis to learn more about US agriculture – from the many different regions and systems to climates and support mechanism for local farmers.

A visit to Bayer’s North American research and development facility, formerly Monsanto also was insightful covering key topics on genetics and plant modifications which will, ultimately, change the way our Aussie farmers grow cotton in the future.

 

Some key farm visits along the Mississippi river in Memphis, Tennessee had some hidden surprises for the group of Australian cotton growers. In stark contrast to the water situation back home they were staggered by the sheer volume of water available to US irrigators. RaboResearch analyst Charlie Clack described it as a sharp contrast to the domestic water courses.

“Our growers were particularly fascinated by the lack of water regulation here – there is no real limit on extraction,” Charlie said.

 

Heading out from Memphis the next stop was Arkansas, with a visit to the Lon Mann Cotton Research Station, a 263 hectare research facility and laboratory run by the University of Arkansas. Here the group was able to get to grips on the major issues facing cotton growers in the state – a region with over 50,000 farms and one in six people employed in agriculture.

Charlie said it quickly became clear that herbicide resistance in the area was a major issue, with glyphosate resistant Palmer Pigweed public enemy Number 1.

On reaching Amarillo in the Texas panhandle, the tour group headed to Adobe Walls Cotton Gin, Spearman, the largest cotton gin in the United States. Here they met a group of local growers and industry people to talk about fibre and farming over the gin’s annual ‘shrimp boil’.

The tour group then made their way to Lance and Danielle Williams progressive irrigated and dryland cropping operation near the town of Panhandle, Texas. Water was a big topic here – the state of Texas has a ‘rule of capture’, meaning if they find water under their land, then it belongs to them.

 

While in the area, the tour group members also had the chance to hear key messages from local farmers at Amarillo Cotton Warehouse before visiting Echo Drip in Lubbock, a company which advises on and installs sub surface drip irrigation on farms, and Deltapine, a cottonseed processing plant now owned by Bayer.

The Rabo Cotton tour wrapped up with an ‘Up Close – Consumer Influence’ lunch in New York, with a close look at the different forces having an impact on cotton demand.

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