The National Cotton Council is urging consultants to join cotton producers at the 2008 Beltwide Cotton Conferences at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Jan. 8-11. The conferences’ theme is “Orchestrate Your Opportunities.”

NCC’s Bill Robertson, coordinator of Beltwide Cotton Production Conference programming, said cotton consultants are being targeted because they are instrumental in cotton producers’ decision-making and they have the incentive to “stay current on new technology, farming practices and challenges facing our nation’s cotton producers.”

Robertson said that’s why the NCC decided to add a new Cotton Consultants Conference to the 2008 Beltwide. The half-day conference, set for 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 8, is open to all attendees.

A two-hour general session will provide an overview on variety selection, insect management and weed management. The second portion will feature eight breakout interactive discussions led by Extension specialists and covering: agronomics/tillage, defoliation/spray technology; fertility; insect management; irrigation/water management; nematodes/diseases; variety selection/planting; and weed management.

“The sessions will have experts focusing on best management practices in these disciplines,” Robertson said. “The overall objective is to increase consultants’ awareness of the latest tools and information available but also help them fine-tune their recommendations to their producer clients.”

The next two days, Jan. 9-10, will feature the annual Beltwide Cotton Production Conference. The general session will open with a welcome from Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Ken Givens and feature updates from the NCC and Cotton Incorporated on the farm bill, cotton research and promotion, variety improvement and other important issues.

The general session also will include a focus on herbicide resistance management; new harvesting technology, including onboard moduling systems; the new eXtension web site; current/future challenges and opportunities for cotton producers; and lessons learned from the 2007 growing season.

Robertson said one of those 2007 production season lessons involves crop rotation.

That’s why Steve Stevens, a Tillar, Ark., producer, will join researchers and Extension on the panel for a discussion of the benefits/drawbacks of a corn/cotton rotation and how he manages the many variables involved in crop rotation.

The Production Conference also will include workshops and seminars covering plant bug management, root rot, nematode management, new harvesting equipment, the new eXtension web site launch, record keeping, options/hedging, and an economic outlook. Another workshop will feature a cotton specialists working group sharing the results of two Cotton Belt studies — one on seed/in-furrow treatments and one on plant growth regulators.

A hard copy of the 2008 Beltwide Cotton Conferences final program will be available at the meetings’ registration desk. In the meantime, the program can be viewed and a PDF file downloaded at http://www.cotton.org/beltwide.

That site also contains specific details concerning the conferences and instructions for making room reservations. The deadline to cancel rooms and receive a full refund was Dec. 7. Reservations that are cancelled will result in those rooms returning to the room block. Currently, the Gaylord Opryland room block is sold out on Jan. 10 and 11. Attendees should call the Opryland at (615) 883-2211 and ask for overflow hotel options and assistance.

Conferees also have access to the BWCC Personal Scheduler — a tool that enables planning of a customized schedule in order to maximize time at the Conferences. The tool, which can be found at http://ncc.confex.com/ncc/2008/scheduler, includes both the title and descriptions of the conferences’ presentations and allows browse/search using key words.

The NCC is the primary coordinator of the Beltwide Cotton Conferences, which has an overall objective of sharing information among those with a stake in a healthy U.S. cotton production sector, including industry members, university and USDA researchers, Extension personnel, consultants and service providers.