Friday, November 2, 2018

2018 Looking Like a Good Year for Valley Cotton, Alfalfa Crops

With the harvest season heading for the back stretch in the Valley, cotton growers are banking on 2018 to be a good year for their crops despite the cloud hanging over the market because of the U.S.-China trade fight over tariffs.

The cotton harvest is starting to wind down in the Valley.
Field scout Damien Jelen says growers couldn’t ask for better growing conditions this year.
“For cotton, this was the best year we have had in five years. Growers had the water they needed. We had the weather we needed,” Damien says.

“It was kind of brutal when we had so many over 100 degree days,” Damien says.
You might recall the Fresno region set a record for the most consecutive days of 100-degree temperatures in July. Everyone endured 30 straight days of triple-digit weather through early August.
Gins are running 24/7 to process the freshly picked cotton.
“But cotton loves the long 100 degree days,” Damien says. “You could see the length in the nodes, which translates into a good yield.”

Despite the hot summer, “the pests weren’t too bad. Last year we got hammered with lygus bugs. This year lygus wasn’t much of a problem.  Aphids were not too bad either. I didn’t have any growers with sticky cotton this year. With biological controls we took care of the aphids,” Damien says.
For now, growers will wait for reports from the ginner’s to really find out about their cotton quality and production.

Flat beds with cotton bales ready to be stored in warehouses.
On the market front, Roger Isom, president and chief executive officer of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association, told the state Farm Bureau’s AgAlert last week that cotton prices could be hurt because of trade uncertainties and higher retaliatory tariffs China put on U.S. cotton. There’s not much movement on cotton right now, he says.

"Everybody keeps hoping that a solution is around the corner, but it sure doesn't look like it right now," Isom tells AgAlert. "We're a little luckier because it's not a perishable crop, but you can't just sit on it forever. You've got to sell; you've got to pay bills."
Alfalfa growers are squeezing in one more cutting.

Meanwhile, Valley alfalfa growers also anticipate a good 2018. “Everyone is doing an extra cutting this fall. I saw a lot of growers with large bales. Usually we have small bales this time of year. That means their yields are up,” Damien said.

Pests were under control for most of the year, except for a small spike in August. At the same time, there wasn’t much rain to hamper the alfalfa crop.

 Overall, Damien says, “it was a great year for farming.”