Monday, November 17, 2014

Despite Challenges Valley Cotton Growers Are Looking at a Productive Year

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the fall cotton harvest is pretty much done. It will take a while before we know how cotton fared this year – both in yields and quality – during the state’s severe drought. Gins are still keeping busy processing the freshly picked fiber.

Pacific Ginning Co. worker wraps a bale of cotton.
To get a recap about the 2014 cotton season, we caught up with Dan Munk, a cotton production and water management expert and farm advisor with the University of California Cooperative Extension in Fresno County. 
UCCE Fresno cotton expert Dan Munk.

Question: How cotton did do this year?
Answer: This was a good cotton year. We started out with good early warm spring planting conditions. The crop developed well early on.

Q: What was the advantage of a warm spring?
 A: We went into bloom earlier than most seasons. That was important because early bloom means we get good early seed fertilization.  We had good boll development early on.

Q:  Were there any disease management issues this season?
Growers continued to deal with Race 4 fusarium willt issues.
A: We did see Race 4 fusarium wilt continues to be a problem for many growers in the valley. We have a lot of information available for growers to deal with the problem. (Race 4 is a fungus in the soil. It can infect plants and cause a vascular wilt in a number of cotton varieties. The spores can be spread through regular farming practices such as irrigation and cultivation. You can learn more about fusarium wilt from the University of California IPM online.)

Q: Did growers deal with many pest problems?
Aphids were a concern this season.
A: Generally insects were fairly low to moderate this year. We probably had above average aphid and white fly issues late in the season. In some areas that will create a problem with lint quality. Sticky cotton is not something we want to be allowing into the market. It was an issue this year more so than in previous years.
Q: Was this a productive year for growers?
 A: Overall we had a good production season. In areas where water availability was low we’re probably going to see lower yields. We simply weren’t able to meet the full evapotranspiration demands of the crop.
Q: What do you think the overall cotton yields will be in 2014?
A: We don’t expect record yields this year because of the drought. But they probably will be well above the five-year average for cotton in the San Joaquin Valley.


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