The 48th annual Beltwide Cotton Production Conference, sponsored by the National Cotton Council, will offer cotton producers, researchers and industry members a combination of the old and the new when the conference officially begins Tuesday.

Among the old standbys will be the opening remarks by Council Chairman Kenneth Hood, a producer from Gunnison, Miss., tomorrow morning and the Marketplace Insights presentation by W.B. “Billy” Dunavant Jr., chairman and CEO of Memphis, Tenn.-based Dunavant Enterprises Inc., on Wednesday morning.

The new will include a forum for new cotton researchers and experienced scientists who may be attracted to new and developing areas of cotton research and a Cotton Production Conference general session on "Pest Management: Trends and Practices."

The latter will include University of Tennessee researcher Bob Hayes and Mississippi State University. weed scientist Dan Reynolds discussing the challenges in weed management and weed management with new herbicides and traits; Louisiana State University entomologist Ralph Bagwell sharing insect management practices; and the NCC’s Frank Carter providing an overview of current and new insect control products.

In addition, one of the conference’s afternoon seminars on Wednesday, "Cotton Pest Management Update," will feature presentations such as insect management in reduced tillage systems, the prospect of using remote sensing and variable rate technology for insect management, insect management in the irrigated West, stink bug management and updates on boll weevil and pink bollworm eradication programs.

Mississippi State U. cotton Extension specialist Will McCarty, who served on the production conference program planning committee, said pest management is becoming more important to today’s growers who are faced with production economic challenges.

"For example, while transgenic tolerance has greatly simplified weed control," he said, "it behooves growers to learn how to prolong the viability of those traits and prevent massive resistance to the selected herbicides used in these systems."

Regarding insect management, he said, growers need to refine their strategies for dealing with secondary insects that have become primary pests.

"The boll weevil eradication program, along with the tremendous increase in acres using Bt technology, have significantly lowered the amount of insecticides being applied," McCarty said. "Unfortunately, that has had the effect of not suppressing other insects like stink bugs, plant bugs and aphids."

The new forum for scientists "will bring cotton researchers together to explore several key issues that will govern the future and viability of cotton research," says Henry Moody, agriculture engineer at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

Moody and other organizers hope the forum will mix researchers interested in collaborations between cotton production and utilization, an area of research, they say, that enjoys extremely strong industry support.

The event will be part of the first afternoon of conferences following the close of the Cotton Production Conference.

"Our idea is to teach participants something about an industry segment with which they are not familiar, provide participants an environment that could lead to future research partnerships and reinforce the idea that the cotton industry is extremely supportive of research," Moody says.

Presentations would cover ginning, classification, marketing and textile processing. Each presentation would include a detailed overview and explanation of the subject matter and the presenter's ideas of issues that need to be addressed through research.

John W. Radin of the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) in Beltsville, MD, will preside at the forum, which will also feature John Patrick Jordan of the Southern Regional Research Center in New Orleans as moderator and Mississippi State University’s McCarty as facilitator.

The Cotton Foundation Technical Exhibits will open at 1 p.m. today, a day earlier than in the past. The exhibits will be open until 5 p.m. today and from noon until 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

For further information about the Beltwide Conference, visit the NCC’s web site at http://www.cotton.org/beltwide and watch Farm Press Daily for news updates. e-mail: flaws@primediabusiness.com