The 2003 Georgia Cotton Production Workshop is scheduled for Dec. 11-12 at the Nessmith-Lane Continuing Education Building at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga. The 11th annual conference of its kind, the workshop is intended for growers, county agents, dealers and others involved in agribusiness who are interested in cotton.

“The format of the workshop provides an opportunity for in-depth discussions of production issues in the various concurrent workshop sessions,” says Steve M. Brown, University of Georgia Extension cotton specialist. “The general session will include a broad range of concerns related to economics as well as emerging production issues.”

The conference, sponsored by the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service and the Georgia Cotton Commission, will begin with registration from 8 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 11.

Concurrent workshop sessions are scheduled to run from 8:30 a.m. until 11:50 a.m. on the first day of the meeting. Sessions will be held on the following topics: Weed Management; Cotton Varieties; Plant Pathology and Nematology; Fertilizers and Soil Management; Understanding Equipment, Calibration and Application Procedures for Nematicides; Insect Management; Cotton Physiology; Cotton Market Outlook; and Maximizing the Efficacy of Nematicides.

The general session on Dec. 11 will begin at 1 p.m. Topics and presenters are as follows:

Political and Economic Pressures on U.S. Cotton — Mark Lange, National Cotton Council president; The ABC's of Cotton Fiber Quality Physiology and Management — Phil Jost, University of Georgia agronomist; Implications in the Textile Industry — Roger Insley Sr., Consultant, Custom Technical Solutions, Gastonia, N.C.; The 2003 Crop Year in Review — Steve M. Brown, University of Georgia agronomist; Report from the Georgia Cotton Commission — Richey Seaton, Georgia Cotton Commission executive director; Nematodes — An Increasing Nemesis of Georgia Cotton repayment rate of $355 per ton, says Jimmy Godwin, the group's manager. “We feel like we ought to be able to do that or a little better on a good crop.”

This season, GFA hit the ground running with 16 buying points and leased warehouses in which to store the peanuts.

The group expects to market 66,000 tons of peanuts this harvest; that number could go as high as 80,000 tons because of the “real big crop” in Georgia.

Under the provisions of the new farm bill, a grower can appoint a cooperative marketing association as his marketing agent. The producer is issued a warehouse receipt from the cooperative marketing association, which obtains the loan through the county Farm Service Agency office. The producer gets the check for his peanuts a few days later.

To handle the information in a fast, effective manner, GFA developed a computer system to handle information off the 1007, the form used to list the grower and the amount of peanuts received at the buying point, and issue a warehouse receipt and the check to the producer.

Godwin says GFA has contracts with two shellers: Easom in Donalsonville, Ga., and Brooks in Samson, Ala. Brooks is the larger of the two shellers and is building a new plant that “should be comparable to anybody in the business.

“We'll be able to ship to the big manufacturers. Once we get established for providing quality, then we'll have a history.”

Godwin says a lot is riding on “how well we do this first full year.”

Birdsong and Golden Peanut Company have a combined 72-percent market share of the shelling business in the Southeast. Godwin realizes it has tinges of the David and Goliath story.

“Our biggest challenge is working our way into the market and getting the manufacturers to agree to buy peanuts from us,” Godwin says. “The farmer is willing to have another option. As long as we can perform equally with other shellers, the farmer will want to maintain that option.”

With an overloaded market due to the big crop in the Southeast this year, most contracts have been running at $25 or better above the repayment rate of $355, Godwin says.

“We've got to do $25 or better and we'd like to be at $400 a ton, without the counter-cyclical payments,” Godwin says.

e-mail: cyancy@primediabusiness.com