Friday, January 22, 2010

A Day with the Germans

I spent a day taking some German farmers around southern Arizona. We met up in Globe and then went to Safford to tour a cotton gin and cotton farm. Then we traveled on to Willcox to tour a vineyard and pistachio farm then on to Tucson for a pumpkin farm then home. It was a long day but very interesting.

I think the highlight for the farmers, and for myself was the ride in the module-making cotton picker in Pima. Justin Layton, one of my farmers, has one of these new amazing machines that makes the module of cotton (the loaf) so it saves time and employees.

We began the morning with Scott Alder telling the group about how the cotton is ginned and how this gin can do both long and short staple cotton. Scott is also an expert on water so he was able to explain how the farmers are switching their irrigation methods to conserve water. Farmers in Gila Valley are now moving towards drip irrigation to save money and water.

After they visited the gin we went to Justin's farm (across the road) to see the drip irrigation system and to see the Case IH module making cotton picker.

Justin was so nice to take each of the farmers and myself on a trip up and down the field. The
carriage on the cotton picker would fill up about every third person or so which allowed us to see the module be dumped from the cotton picker. The way it is done without this type of cotton picker is to fill the holding carriage and then dump it into a metal box on the side of the field. Then two employees must mash it down tight to make the module. This new machine does it all so you just need the driver.

There are screens inside to tell you how much cotton is being picked from each row/acre and there is a camera that allows you to see how the cotton is flowing into the bin. It is very technical.

After the cotton farm tour we headed to Willcox to visit Cochise Groves and Golden Rule Vineyard. Another one of my farmers, Jim Graham and his wife own both. Jim was so nice to answer questions and talk about how he grows pistachios.

After our visit to Cochise Groves we drove to Tucson and out to Buckelew Farms for the Pumpkin Festival. Clint was so nice to talk to the Germans about growing pumpkins and the agritourism his family does.
Afterwards I took them back to Phoenix and to their hotel where they were headed to the New England area to visit greenhouses.
In all it was very interesting and I even learned some new things as we were teaching them about farming and ranching in Arizona.