There are 12 Technical Conferences in the Beltwide Cotton Conferences, and each one has a story to tell.

Although their primary purpose is to provide a forum for information transfer within their scientific disciplines, the conferences also serve as mini-family reunions for persons who spend much of their careers working on cotton.

The 2011 Beltwide Cotton Technical Conferences kick off at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 6, after the conclusion of the Production Conference and numerous seminars and workshops scheduled for this year’s Beltwide in Atlanta, Ga.

The Beltwide, which will be headquartered at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel in downtown Atlanta, actually gets underway with the Consultants Conference at 1 p.m. on Jan. 4. It continues with the Production Conference which opens at 8 a.m. on Jan. 5.

One of the older technical conferences, the Cotton Agronomy and Physiology Conference will hold a special session on “Cotton Flowering and Fruiting” at 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 6.

The session will include presentations on the nuts and bolts of cotton squaring and fruiting by such well-known cotton physiologists as Jack Mauney, Jarman Enterprises in Mesa, Ariz.; Bill Pettigrew, USDA agricultural Research Service, Stoneville, Miss.; K. Raja Reddy, Mississippi State University; and Tom Cothern, Texas AgriLife Research.

Irrigation and drought tolerance will be among the topics of presentations at the Cotton Agronomy and Physiology Conference’s Session A, which begins at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.

The Cotton Disease Conference will also have a special session, titled “The Impact of Losing Temik 15G and future Prospects for Nematode Management, at 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 5. The session will include a number of presentations on the current situation and future outlook for controlling cotton nematodes.

The impact of nematodes on yield, the potential for nematode-resistance in selected cotton varieties and the testing of new seed treatments aimed at nematode control will be among the topics discussed when the Cotton Disease Council’s main session begins at 4 p.m., Jan. 6.

The potential for cotton prices to remain at their current high levels will be a major topic for participants in the Cotton Economics and Marketing Conference.

This conference will begin with the Cotton Economic Outlook Symposium at 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 6, which will feature presentations by Terry Barr, economist with CoBank in Washington; Jarral Neeper, president, Calcot Ltd., Bakersfield, Calif., and John Robinson, Extension Economist with Texas A&M University

But the discussions won’t be confined to the price outlook. The main Economics and Marketing Conference, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 6, will include presentations on the 2012 farm bill, an analysis of crop insurance policies and coverage options for cotton and peanut farms and the cotton production and trade outlook in China and in Brazil.

The Cotton Engineering Systems Conference, which begins at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 6, will feature presentations on topics such as the use of cotton byproducts in biodegradable packaging, the use of cotton and cotton gin trash as a biomass feedstock for power production, soil compaction in cotton fields and issues with cotton gin dust.

The Cotton Ginning Conference will begin with a report on the “Quality of the 2010 Cotton Crop,” by Robbie Seals with the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Cotton Program when it convenes at 1:30 p.m., Jan. 6.

Other highlights will include reports on the National Cotton Council’s Vision 21 – Cotton Flow Study, a survey of cottonseed cleaning equipment at Mid-South cotton gins, a new gin rib insert that improves gin turnout and fiber properties and a study on cotton gin particulate matter emissions.

The Cotton Improvement Conference, which begins at 1:30 p.m., Jan. 6, brings together a group of scientists who are trying to improve different aspects of the cotton plant and the cotton production system.

Among this year’s topics will be presentations on the evaluation and inheritance of several traits associated with lint percent in cotton, evaluation of resistance to cotton fleahopper injury in cotton, identification of cotton germplasm and molecular markers for salt tolerance and the diversity of cotton and cotton germplasm of Mexico.

The Cotton Insect Research and Control Conference, which begins at 1:30 p.m., Jan. 6, will lead off with a topic that has been much on cotton entomologists’ minds this season: “What’s Going on With Dual-Gene Bt Cotton? Why Are We Spraying More for Caterpillar Control?”

Other topics will include papers on cotton insect losses in 2010, the impact of Bollgard III cotton on damage and survival of fall armyworms on cotton fruiting forms, the establishment of spider mites on cotton in a semi-arid environment and the impact of planting date and varietal maturity on tarnished plant bug management.

The Cotton Quality Measurements Conference will also begin at 1:30 p.m., Jan. 6. Papers will be given on such topics as the impacts of the laboratory ginning method on cotton fiber micronaire measurements, the effect of cotton fiber maturity on yarn quality and a preliminary assessment of portable color spectrophotometer measurements of cotton color.

Finding ways to help growers make more efficient use of fertilizers will be one of the key topics for the Cotton Soil Management and Plant Nutrition Conference, which will open with a special session on that subject at 10:30 a.m., Jan. 6.

The conference will continue with papers on cotton’s response to residual nitrogen following corn production, controlled release nitrogen fertilizers for Missouri cotton production and plant recovery from early N and K stress.

The Cotton Utilization Conference will open with a Fabric Chemistry and Products Symposium at 1:30 p.m., Jan. 6. Some of its topics might seem to be far afield for a cotton conference but are important in maintaining demand for the natural fiber.

Scientists will be discussing such issues as the performance enhancement of citric acid as a formaldehyde-free easy care cross linker by using nano titanium dioxide and novel additive for cotton, “Unraveling Cellulose fibers: A Twisted Tale” and interactions between cotton denim fabric coated with antimicrobial finishes and human skin.

The Cotton Weed Science Research Conference will open with a special session centered on herbicide resistance monitoring and management plans at 10:30 a.m., Jan. 6. The main Weed Science Conference will resume with the full conference program at 1:30 p.m.

The latter will focus on some unwelcome developments in cotton weed control such as dinitroanaline-resistant Palmer amaranth in Georgia along with the progress on new cotton varieties that are resistant to 2,4-D and glufosinate and the effectiveness of deep tillage and rye cover crop on Palmer amaranth emergence in cotton.