Growers Go Coast to Coast for Innovative Farming Tips

Friday, September 2, 2016
By: Scott Kohne, Crop Science, a Division of Bayer, NAFTA Market Acceptance Manager, Seeds Unit
National Cotton Council’s Producer Information Exchange (PIE) Tour

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.

Frank Terhort, Bayer Crop Science Global Head of Seeds
Frank Terhort, Global Head of Seeds

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

By: Scott Kohne

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.

PIE Tour participants visit Bayer Bee Care Center in RTP, NC
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.

PIE Tour Participants visit NC Cotton Growers Cooperative PIE Tour participants visit the Mt Olive production site
Michael Quinn of the NC Cotton Growers Cooperative provided overview of cotton fiber trading globally.
Participants visit the Mt Olive production site. Did you know that they produced 150 million jars of pickle products this year?

Southeast Growers Learn About Plant Health, Drones and Hot Sauce

By: Danielle Mayber

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.

Southeast growers and Danielle Mayber at the Stoneville plot tour
Southeast growers and I at the Stoneville plot tour

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.

Georgia grower and Bayer rep Stoneville plot tour Growers watch bottling process for Panola Pepper products
Georgia grower and Bayer rep in the field during their Stoneville plot tour.
Growers saw the bottling process and Panola Pepper products first-hand.

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.

Somerset Plantation shows PIE participants how he maps out the drone’s flight path
One of the Hardwick brothers from Somerset Plantation shows PIE participants how he maps out the drone’s flight path before take-off

We’re Going West!

By: Lee Hall

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.

Safflower harvest in southwest region Kansas cotton grower reviewing remote sensing data on Pima cotton
Local cotton growers discuss crop solutions
Kansas cotton grower Jayme Dunn sits with a California grower reviewing remote sensing data on Pima cotton

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

PIE Tour participants enjoy a California meal together
PIE Tour participants enjoy the California hospitality

In the Land of Cotton – Growers Visit Texas

By: Brian Vande Berg

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.

PIE Tour participants visit the EdCot Co-op Gin in Odem, TX
PIE Tour participants visit the EdCot Co-op Gin in Odem, TX

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.

Glyphosate-resistant pigweed growing in Texas cotton field Cotton being harvested in Texas
Glyphosate-resistant pigweed has become a major challenge in the Texas High Plains
Cotton harvest in Texas

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

For more information about the National Cotton Council’s Producer Information Exchange program please visit

If you want to see more photos from the event search #PIECotton on Twitter and Instagram!


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