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UCCE webinar focuses on raising the value of California cotton

CA cotton cover crops

Using soil-building techniques in California cotton production could raise the value of the crop — photo courtesy University of California

Well-known appellations, powerful marketing and excellent products make California wines valuable. Could the same be done for California’s cotton crop?

California farmers produce high-quality cotton but currently take in only 62 cents per pound, a price that makes turning a profit challenging. UC Cooperative Extension is working with a team of soil health and fiber sustainability experts to offer an online workshop from 9 a.m. to noon, Sept. 17, that will explore ways to increase cotton’s value.

Speakers will share new soil-building practices and ideas for marketing the crop’s sustainable production system to make California cotton more valuable to consumers.

“Buyers and markets are paying attention to sustainability, climate change mitigation and protecting natural resources,” said UC Cooperative Extension cropping systems specialist Jeff Mitchell. “We want to seize the moment for cotton.”

The webinar will start with discussions led by Rebecca Burgess of Fibershed and Cala Rose Ostrander of the People, Land and Life Foundation about what clothing and textile brands are interested in and what they may be willing to pay in support of healthy soil management systems for California cotton.

Three cotton farmers – Gary Martin of Mendota, John Teixeira of Firebaugh and Cannon Michael of Los Banos – will share their motivations and experiences with cotton soil health management approaches.

David Lamm, former Natural Resources Conservation Service national soil health coordinator and now part of the Soil Health Institute in Greensboro, North Carolina, will share experiences from the Southern U.S. cotton belt to improve soil health.

The program also includes a discussion about long-term soil management research conducted at the UC West Side Research and Extension Center in Five Points by UC Davis doctoral student Geoff Koch and Mitchell.

Registration for the general public is $10; registration is free for farmers. To register, visit http://ucanr.edu/sjvcottonwebinar

The University of California contributed this article.