Calif. Cotton Ginners/Growers
Water availability is always a concern in California, and it’s shaping up to be a challenging year for us in that area. We’re way behind in rainfall and snowpack levels. We’re also dealing with the Race 4 fusarium wilt disease that appears to be spreading throughout the state. That is a major issue. Nationally, I’m very concerned about the battle we’re facing on the Farm Bill as well as the overall economy. We have many challenges.
I think the big issue from my standpoint is keeping producers engaged in the policymaking and promotion issues that affect their farming operations. These are the very things that Cotton Incorporated and the National Cotton Council do for us. Many farmers don’t have the time to be as actively involved as they’d like to be. However, going forward, we have to be proactive to protect this industry.
We’re dealing with a lot of issues in Mississippi and the Mid-South and not just one problem. Naturally, we’re all concerned about the level of government support for farm programs. We’ll be watching what happens on the Farm Bill as we look ahead to the future. But there are important agronomic challenges on the horizon – such as the leaf spot problem, plant bugs and availability of fungicides to help us deal with some serious problems in the field. It is critical that we monitor these issues because this looks like it might be a year where we will have to be diligent in keeping up with everything.
Extension Weed Scientist
In our region of the Belt, the biggest challenge without a doubt is water. Everyone here knows that we must have timely rainfall to activate residual herbicides that we apply from burndown up through layby. It is the only way we can have a chance to control glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth. As we’ve been saying for several years, this problem isn’t going away anytime soon. These residuals need that rainfall.
We obviously have plenty of regulatory challenges confronting the industry this year. Water availability will definitely get tighter and tighter in many areas of the Belt. However, I’d say overall that economics will be our biggest issue. We’ve had crop losses, and we’re looking at a different kind of Farm Bill. It’s a big transition from less government support and higher benchmarks on costs. As we raise this benchmark, we are also raising the risk factor. On our farm, it all boils down to managing these increased costs and figuring out how to stay viable in today’s market.