Monday, October 17, 2011

Growers Finally Start the Cotton Harvest in Central San Joaquin

Growers have started picking the Acala cotton in the Valley.

   It’s mid-October and the cotton harvest is finally here in the central San Joaquin Valley.

 With the unseasonable rain behind us, harvesters started traversing local Acala cotton fields last week. Pima growers began defoliating their crop and in another few weeks, they will start picking the fluffy fiber.
I’m seeing anywhere from nine to 14 open bolls per plant. In my plant mapping, I’m counting an average of four locks (bunches of lint) within the boll in Acala and three locks in Pima as well as six to seven seeds per boll. All this indicates  good crop set.

Wet cotton after last week's rain. The
lint dried quickly once the sun came out.
Because of this, Acala growers should see good yields this season. For Pima, it could turn out to be an average year for yields. But good commodity prices certainly will help everyone. You can attribute this year’s healthy yields to three things: Good pest management, ample availability of water (unlike those drought years) and warm summer weather, which allowed the cotton plants to make up some of the lost time due to late plantings caused by last-spring rains and cool temperatures.

Speaking of the rain, the early October wet stuff didn’t harm the fiber. Lint dried up quickly with the return of warmer temperatures. The rain did help wash off dirt and sticky honeydew from the cotton. Overall, growers are excited as they head for the final stretch of the season. They certainly will be ready for a little post-season rest and relaxation.
I'm describing a harvester to last year's Cotton Tour group.
Cotton Tour Countdown: Don’t forget to spread the word about our annual Cotton Tour on Tuesday, November 8. There’s still room available for the free event, which includes lunch in downtown Firebaugh. Participants always enjoy the opportunity to meet growers, visit a gin and pick a little cotton. For many, it’s the first time they have come face-to-face to a real cotton farmer. Buses will leave the Best Western Apricot Inn – Interstate 5 and West Panoche Road about 23 miles southwest of Firebaugh – at 8:30 a.m. and return about 4 p.m. Registration is required. Sign up at

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