Monday, November 21, 2016

Growers Thankful Another Cotton Season in the Books

Cotton growers will be giving thanks and counting their blessings this coming Thanksgiving Day.

With the last fields being harvested, growers can close the books on another season – a relatively uneventful year that started more than six months ago. Oh, that doesn’t mean there weren’t lots of worry -free days and nights over the 180 to 200 days – that comes with the job.

It's hard to remember how small cotton plants were in April.
Yes, there continued (and continues) to be worries about another year of drought in California and how much water is available for farming. Yes, there continue to be worries about yo-yoing commodity prices. And yes, there were continuing worries about bugs, plant diseases and the weather.

Yet, Carlos Silva points out there were no major pest issues during the year. And the harvest went well despite a few days of wet weather that slowed cotton picking.

A grower cuts down cotton stalks before plowing them under.
“Everybody is wrapping things up. They’re plowing down their fields,” Carlos says.

 County agricultural departments require cotton growers to shred, uproot and plow under cotton stalks after harvest to combat the spread of pink bollworm (PWB), a global cotton pest. Plow down kills any overwintering PBW larvae.
The practice has proved effective.
Pink bollworm larvae has been under control. (UC IPM photo)
The Fresno County Ag Department reported this month that 48,280 acres were trapped for pink bollworm but all came up empty as of October 20. That’s the fourth straight year no PBW has been discovered in the county. As a result, growers in specified areas can obtain a permit for a reduced tillage system for cotton destruction for the following season. Growers can call the department at (559) 600-7510 for more information about reduced tillage permits.
Right now, cotton gins are going full bore. “This is their time of year. They’re going 24 hours a day,” Carlos says. “You see lots of cotton bales being moved out.”
For growers now, it’s a matter of waiting for the report back from the gin about the quality of their crop. And of course, it’s watching the prices on the commodities market.
Meanwhile, Carlos points out the alfalfa harvest also has wrapped up for the most part. He reports a few fields completed their final cutting last week. It’s been quite a year for growers who seemed to have enough water available to stretch their season from March to November. “I started scouting alfalfa for pests in February,” Carlos says.

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