Cotton Links


California Cotton –
Alive And Well

Talk to any plant breeder, and it quickly becomes very obvious that trying to steer the direction of a plant can be difficult to say the least.

Lowell and Becky Zelinski have long recognized how important California cotton is to the world cotton market, and for the last five years they have combined commitment and innovation to host the California Central Coast Cotton Conference – an event that provides updates on and trends affecting nearly all important components of the state’s cotton production.

This year’s conference, held in Monterey, Calif., marked the fifth anniversary of the event.

“Becky and I have always wanted this conference to be a forum for two-way communication between speakers and the crowd, so from the onset we highly encouraged on-the-fly comments from everyone during the event,” says Lowell, a multi-seasoned crop advisor who has now taken on the role of host and moderator of the annual conference.

He can be counted on to ask poignant questions to speakers during their presentations as he draws on his years of experience dealing with agriculture in California’s unique but diversified growing regions.

Since 2003, California cotton acreage has decreased from 850,000 to 455,000 acres.

“Despite that reduction in acreage, there is a large and dedicated contingent of cotton professionals who are exerting both production and research efforts on cotton’s behalf throughout the California cotton growing region,” says Zelinski.

Diverse Presentations Given

Along with presentations reviewing soil fertility issues, IPM updates and the use of precision farming to make agronomic decisions, conference attendees heard the latest in genetic engineering advances in cotton physiology from Kater Hake, newly appointed vice president of Agricultural Research for Cotton Incorporated.

“Our industry will be best served in the future if today we use diverse strategies to improve multiple areas of cotton’s stress tolerance,” says Hake.

“There are five stress tolerant areas within cotton that are currently being tested (drought, heat, salt, cold and excess moisture). With the unstable climate changes occurring in cotton-producing regions, we can’t limit our research to just one area of stress tolerance.”

Hake also recapped Cotton Incorporated’s efforts to increase the value of cottonseed.

“We continue to support bio-tech research strategies that can add further value to cottonseed while simultaneously working to promote the consumption of cottonseed by our current customers,” he says.

Water Availability Crucial

Earl P. Williams, president & CEO of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association, gave a revealing presentation during the industry update portion of the meeting as he estimated 2008 California cotton acreage.

Based on three levels of water availability, Williams told attendees, “If we have no water available in 2008, we are estimating there will be 200,000 to 250,000 acres dedicated to cotton, with 200,000 acres planted to Pima and 50,000 going to short staple varieties.” Williams says.

Based on normal rainfall and snowpack, there would be 250,000 acres of Pima and 100,000 acres of short staple. He also mentioned that despite reductions in ginning volume, ginners were experiencing record returns from excellent cottonseed prices.

Sponsors of this year’s Central Coast Cotton Conference included: Dupont, Bayer CropScience, Case IH, Dunavant of California, Precision Ag Inc., Arysta LifeScience, California Cotton Ginners/Growers Association, Dow AgroSciences, UPI, AmVac, Calcot, Cotton Incorporated, Cotton Board, MANA, Monsanto, Supima, Syngenta and Wilbur-Ellis.

The California Central Coast Cotton Conference provided information for this article. For additional information about presentations given, go to www.cottonconference.com or call (805) 239-8200.

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