The Corcoran High School Ag department continues to do great things. Among those is their partnership with Phytogen who works closely with the CHS Ag Department and their FFA students to make the large farm productive. Last week, was harvest time for cotton which had been planted on the big farm on Plymouth and Van Dorsten Avenues.
According to CHS Ag teacher Dustin Newby the partnership between the two entities provides a great hands-on learning opportunity for his students.
“Phytogen provides us with the cotton seed, and then we plant it, cultivate it, and water it. They help us during harvest time by picking certain varieties of the cotton from the seed they provide to us. After harvest is over Phytogen takes the seeds and Corcoran FFA gets the lint which is eventually sold,” Newby said.
The project grows two different varieties of Pima Cotton and seven different varieties of Upland. The project done on the big farm allows Phytogen to isolate the cotton for purity, noted Joel Mahill Cotton Breeder Research for Phytogen.
“It’s ideal for us”, added Mahill. “And, we wanted it to be a program that could support the students.”
During the visit last week to the farm students saw first-hand how the cotton was picked and they also learned more about GMO grown versus organic and what happens to cotton seed and fiber.
Glenn Terrell, Contract Coordinator for Phytogen spoke to the students regarding growing high quality California seed and explained how they kept the cotton grow isolated from others to prevent contamination—which included the foraging traits of the honey bee. He also spoke to students about going into a career in Agriculture.
“We hope we can continue this for years to come and provide it as a learning experience for you,” Terrell commented. “Ten to twenty years down the road you may be standing here giving this speech.”
Newby also hopes to continue the partnership with Phytogen.
“This program teaches them responsibility and brings to life what we learn in the classroom. For the students who are interesting in going into an agriculture related profession after high school, it helps strengthen their skills, background and knowledge on farming. They learn the different varieties of cotton and all of the aspects that come with it. They learn how and when to plant, cultivate and irrigate,” Newby noted. “Next week they will return (to the farm) and learn about the stalk chopping and dicing the remains under. Going forward our goal is for the production farm to be totally student driven, actually having them out there planting and cultivating and harvesting, to the point where they are operating some of the equipment”.
CHS senior Travis Daniel who plans to a career in Ag said they’ve helped in some aspects and Phytogen has taught them what is being done in every phase of the process.
Newby is a pleased with the project and the opportunities it provides to his students.
“I think the project is great; more hands-on learning is the goal for our students in the ag department. The students are passionate about the program and the opportunities presented to them here. Great things are happening at CHS and within our department. Not many schools have 100 plus acres to farm and for the students here at CHS who wish to major in agronomy or plant science, taking part in growing 80 acres of cotton in a high school setting is only going to help pave the way for their future,” Newby added.
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