Monday, November 14, 2011

Cotton Harvest on Final Stretch; Farm Tour Gets Up Close and Personal

With the on-again, off-again rainy weather lately, growers have been scrambling to harvest their cotton. So far, about three quarters of the Valley’s cotton acreage has been harvested, University of California experts told us during our annual Cotton Tour last week.

Acala is in. The Pima harvest is still out with growers hoping to get out into the fields and complete their second and final picking soon.
On Friday, we had more wet weather with rainfall totals overnight ranging from 0.1 of an inch to a half-inch in various parts of the region. More rain could raise concerns about mold developing in the harvested cotton. Let’s hope for a little wind and dry weather in the coming days. Weather forecasters are predicting more rain by the end of the week.

Cotton Tour participants get a chance to pick some cotton.
Fortunately, we had nice sunny weather during our farm tour – one of the best ever with lots of people attending – from students, to apparel company representatives to U.S. Department of Agriculture officials. During the all-day tour, we saw a nice perennial hedgerow at Windfall Farms, cotton harvested at George Bettencourt’s farm and saw- and rolling gin in action at Silvercreek Gin. We had lots of good questions: “How many people does it take to harvest cotton?” “How many acres of cotton are harvested per hour?” And “what is the difference between organic cotton and Cleaner Cotton™?’

Tour participants were treated with Indian Summer weather.
We explained our growers produce Cleaner Cotton™ without applying the most toxic chemicals used in cotton production. They follow biological controls and Integrated Pest Management practices – something that can save money for growers and help protect the environment. We pointed out that in California it isn’t economically viable to grow organic cotton because of high labor and input costs. I think many people on the tour came away with a better understanding of Cleaner Cotton™. They also left with a better appreciation for farmers and the cotton industry.

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