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California Governor Signs Ag Overtime Bill

By Steve Adler California Farm Bureau Federation Now that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the agricultural overtime bill, Assembly Bill 1066, employment specialists are working to interpret its provisions and help farmers and ranchers prepare for them. The new law will entitle agricultural employees to premium pay after eight hours of work in a day or 40 hours in a ... Read More »

Show and Tell

Cotton producers in West Texas got a sneak peak at up to a dozen potential new varietal releases during Deltapine's annual field day at Blaine Nichols Farm near Seminole. Nichols and his father, Mark, are two of about 200 producers nationwide that participate in Deltapine's NPE, or New Product Evaluators, program. For the past 10 years or so, the Nichols have planted advanced experimental lines in large 3- to 5-acre plots. They farm the plots as they would their commercial acreage, with each plot being harvested, graded and milled separately. Come December or January when the data on the experimental varieties has been disseminated, NPE producers participate in a conference call to vote on the varieties they think should be released. Between the experimental and commercial varieties, the Nichols have about 20 Deltapine large-scale plots on their farm this season. Mark says they continue to participate because of the benefits the NPE trials provide the industry. Blaine says he's anxious to see how the new XtendFlex system will work once the low-volatility formulation of dicamba is registered. The varieties have been engineered to contain genes that impart resistance to both glyphosate and dicamba herbicides sprayed over the top. Although the Nichols have several XtendFlex varieties on their farm, the plants were only sprayed over the top with Roundup. Blaine stays on top of weeds using the Roundup Ready system as well as several different residual herbicides. He also has adopted a zero-tolerance approach to weeds, but he says controlling Palmer amaranth and Russian thistle as well as a host of others is a constant challenge. Read More »

Cotton Market Outlook

After rallying to the upper 70 cents per pound range during the month of July, new crop cotton futures prices appear to be working their way back down. For much of 2016, new crop cotton futures prices seemed to be stuck in an upper 50 cents to low 60 cents per pound trading range. All of the fundamental supply and demand news pointed to larger acreage and larger production in 2016. With no significant signs of improved domestic or export demand, the potential for a large 2016 crop weighed heavily on the market.However, as the summer progressed, the development of hot, dry conditions in Texas and parts of Georgia along with dry conditions in India began to foster concerns of lower cotton supplies. This introduced a considerable amount of risk premium in the markets and helped support prices. Speculative interests took this momentum and continued to push prices higher by going from a net short position (selling more contracts then purchasing) in early 2016 to the highest net long position (purchasing more contracts then selling) in more than two years. However, this has brought prices to levels that are not fully supported by the underlying supply and demand fundamentals. Read More »

Legislation House Vote Sets Stage For Talks On Drought Relief

Before members of Congress left Washington for the political conventions and August recess, the House of Representatives passed a 2017 appropriations bill that included California drought-relief provisions. California Farm Bureau Federation President Paul Wenger says passage of the appropriations legislation by the House represents an important step toward addressing problems that limit the flexibility of the California water system. By a vote of 231-196, the House passed the 2017 Interior appropriations bill, HR 5538, including the California-related water provisions. The inclusion of the provisions on water could help set the stage for negotiations with the U.S. Senate this fall, says Erin Huston, CFBF federal policy consultant.“This is the first time the House has passed an Interior bill since 2009, which can be seen as a milestone in itself,” Huston says. “This bill provides a potential path for desperately needed federal drought legislation. We are still working under a very limited calendar, but we will continue to urge a federal legislative solution.” Read More »

Going Undercover

Growers Pair Conservation Tillage With Winter Cover Crops To Reduce Soil Erosion And Improve Water Infiltration By Vicky Boyd Managing Editor With conservation deep seeded in his roots, Walter Lentz is a firm believer in cover crops and reduced tillage to help minimize erosion and keep the soil on his fields. “Cover crops are somewhat of a necessity, but hey, it’s ... Read More »

Irrigation Strategies – Part 2

The West and the Southwest are areas of the Cotton Belt that typically experience water shortages. Instead of giving up on trying to irrigate their crops, cotton farmers have adopted systems to make the most of the water that they have. “California is the only state that has to rely fully on irrigation to meet crop water needs,” says Bob Hutmacher, University of California Extension cotton specialist. “We are growing cotton in a dry environment with essentially no chance of rainfall during most of our cotton-growing season. Arizona growers may get growing-season water from monsoon rains, but there is little chance of that for most California producers. “In the past, when we had more consistent, favorable water supplies, better quality water, and weren’t competing as much with permanent crops, furrow irrigation was a typical system used by cotton farmers. Today, we still have large acreages of level basin irrigation – a type of border system – on land well suited for it, such as the finer-textured lake bottom land in the San Joaquin Valley. For these specific soil types, soil characteristics allow this ground to be irrigated quite efficiently at low costs with the level basin system.” Read More »

Irrigating For High Yields

By Guy Collins And Keith Edmisten North Carolina State University Authors’ note: These general irrigation guidelines were developed several years ago by other faculty at the University of Georgia. In some cases, deviating from this model may be appropriate. Much of this information is based on my (Collins) personal research experience while in Georgia. We recommend this model as a ... Read More »