Better Year for Western Cotton Growers

Western Cotton Growers See Market Improvement

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

Cotton growers throughout California and the West fared better this year compared to last year in terms of prices and exports, as reported at the Calcot, Ltd. 89th Annual Meeting last week in Tempe, Arizona. Jarral Neeper president and CEO of the Bakersfield-based Calcot, Ltd., the cotton marketing cooperative representing growers in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, announced, “Last year we produced about 13M bales. We should be a hair over 16M this year.”

California Cotton, Merced County, Sept 2016
California Cotton, Merced County

Neeper estimated, “We’re going to go from about 10.2 million bales in exports to 11.5 million based on a review of our historical shares of the marketplace and the world, the foreign production/consumption gap, our historical shares of filling that gap, and how much we should export.”

“One year ago at this time, cotton prices were at a very low $0.61 per pound,” said Neeper. “The market eventually fell. Prices rallied a little bit, and then fell down to $0.55. Then, the last month of the crop year, we had calcot-logothis unforeseen $0.10 rally—almost $0.12 rally.

In cotton marketing where there are highs and lows, Neeper acknowledged, you can’t always sell high; you have to sell when you can. “As a cooperative, in order to make progress payments to your membership, you do have to sell cotton and turn it into cash.”

“The cotton futures look good,” Neeper said, “even better for the coming year. We’re sitting at roughly $0.70 a pound, about ten cents higher than a year ago. And, generally, California cotton growers tend to get a $0.05 to $0.10 premium per pound because of our growing additions and high quality lint.”

Neeper believes the future of Calcot, Ltd. is “terrific.” He added, “89 years and still going strong; we’re looking for another 89 years.”

 

Calcot Could Market 70 Millionth Bale this Year

Calcot Ltd. Chairman Talks California Cotton at 89th Annual Meeting

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

Calcot Ltd., a democratically-run cotton marketing cooperative owned by 1,200 select cotton growers in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, held its 89th Annual Meeting in Tempe, Arizona, this week. 

Gregory Wuertz, chairman of Calcot and an Arizona cotton grower, said, “The cooperative started in 1927, and it is just amazing to me that we will reach 70 million bales sometime this year.”

“That’s a lot of cotton if you think about it,” Wuertz said. “And it has a great effect on all the growers. A lot of money has been run through the organization, and we are still doing it.”

Wuertz said Calcot directors are in the field across the western cotton belt, interacting with the industry.

“We have Calcot personnel in each cotton region who are also out in the fields talking to people and bringing up questions. They just don’t stay in their office. We try to get great members, and we work really closely with gin managers and their staff. We want to be on a first-name basis,” he said.

Wuertz noted, “You have to love the lifestyle of cotton production. You get attached to the crop. You plant it in March and harvest it in November. It’s a long-term thing.”

Yet, Wuertz acknowledged, “There are ups and downs. There always are. There is always a new catastrophe because you deal with the weather and the water issues. I think you just build up a little bit of a strength and have tougher skin than maybe some growers have with other commodities.”

Many Calcot growers outside of California are in awe of California producers. 

“California has a lot more regulations,” Wuertz said. “They’re blessed with a really nice climate—just a perfect area. Our climate is a little harsher, but California people work with air quality, labor laws, and their water issues. They have to have a real sharp pencil to make all that work.”

However, Wertz says, California growers always enjoy a better per-pound price for their cotton.

“I think over the years they have developed markets, and because of their climate, they do grow a real [high] quality crop that just demands a higher price. Everybody says there’s no difference, but there is some kind of difference that is just a little better,” he said.

Wuertz explained that the Calcot cooperative is good for growers when it comes to the prices they receive.

“It is the classic cooperative idea,” he said. “It is too risky to try and peak these cotton markets. It is risky to just hold all your cotton and try to peak it at one time.”

“You have to be conservative,” he continued. “Like cotton growers are — very conservative. So you sell some and hold some and seek financing from banks for the short term. We have good tight covenants with the bank, and that’s part of our risk-management policy. We don’t want to speculate, so that is why we sell throughout the year, and we try and watch all those things.”

“We have a very strong relationship with mills and we can sell directly to them, which I think demands more of a premium for Calcot growers,” Wuertz said. “And while most cotton-spinning mills are offshore, we still have a good chunk of cotton going to some very good domestic mills, where they turn out top of the line sheets and higher-count shirts.”

Breaking News: Cal Poly Opens New Greenhouse and Insect Rearing Facility

New Greenhouse Facility Opens to Save Citrus from Psyllids that Vector HLB

Facility to Rear Tamarixia Radiata, Natural ACP Predator

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

 

Scores of citrus industry leaders, citrus growers, scientists and CDFA officials attended the ribbon cutting event TODAY at the opening of a new greenhouse on the Cal Poly Pomona campus to rear Tamarixia radiata, a tiny parasitic wasp imported from Pakistan because it is an Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) nymph predator. ACP, in turn, is a serious nonnative citrus pest that can vector Huanglongbing (HLB)—a deadly citrus disease also known as Citrus Greening—that has devastated the powerhouse citrus Screenshot 2016-07-25 12.24.41.png

industry in Florida, threatens to ruin additional citrus economies, and is the biggest threat the California citrus industry has ever faced.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), infected citrus trees “produce fruits that are green, misshapen and bitter, unsuitable for sale as fresh fruit or for juice. Most infected trees die within a few years.” ACPs have been detected in Alabama, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Of those locations, the HLB disease has been detected in California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Texas and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

ENTER:  Tamarixia radiata

Use of the ACP predator, Tamarixia radiata as a biological control for ACP was discovered by Mark Hoddle, biological control specialist and principal investigator, UC Riverside ( UCR), Department of Entomology. The first release of Tamarixia was in December 2011 after USDA-APHIS cleared the natural enemy for release from the Quarantine Facility at UCR.

Mark Hoddle UC Riverside Department of Entomology
Mark Hoddle UC Riverside Department of Entomology

“Tamarixia can kill ACP nymphs in two different ways,” explained Nick Hill, a Tulare County citrus producer and Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program (CPDPC) chair.  “The first is parasitism. In this instance, a female parasitoid lays an egg underneath a fourth or fifth instar—the larger and final developmental stage of the ACP nymph before becoming an adult—nymphs that are most preferred by Tamarixia for parasitism. When the egg hatches, the Tamarixia larva begins to feed on the under-surface of the ACP nymph. Eventually the larva completely excavates the body cavity of the ACP nymph and pupates inside the empty shell of its host.”

Hill explained the first releases of the tiny and harmless wasp will occur this fall in urban areas, “to help control ACP so that we do not have to do mitigations such as spraying in those areas. We hope to get to a point where we no longer need to go into people’s yards and ask if we can treat the trees.”

“The issue,” commented Valerie Melano, professor and chair, Cal Poly Pomona Plant Sciences and interim chair, Cal Poly Agribusiness & Food Industry Management/Agricultural Science, “is that we need to come up with the best possible ways to raise enough wasps for big releases to prey on ACP. We will have CDFA employees working in this green house, as well as student workers who have participated in our research program all along,” noted Melano.

Nick Hill, CPDPC chair
Nick Hill, a Tulare County citrus producer and Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program (CPDPC) chair.

Hill added, “The idea is to get enough Tamarixia out there so they start reproducing themselves and they become self sufficient. This is tough to accomplish, but researchers think if they can get big numbers of the wasp into the urban areas, they can put a big dent in lowering the populations of ACP.”

Cal Poly Pomona Greenhouse

The new Cal Poly 5,040-square-foot research greenhouse, built in collaboration with Citrus Research Board and constructed through a $400,000 grant from the Citrus Pest & Disease Prevention Program, will house the second Tamarixia production program in California. CDFA’s Mount Roubideaux facility in Riverside houses current production. Both facilities will support the CPDPC biological control program that oversees releases in urban areas with high ACP populations.

The new greenhouse should produce a 1-ACP Research Greenhouse1.5 million wasps. “It’s a very nice facility,” said Hill. “We are trying to boost the biological control program to produce four million Tamarixia a year.”

California Quarantine

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) operates an extensive monitoring program to track the distribution of the insect and disease in both residential areas and commercial citrus groves. Results have determined quarantine zones, guided releases of biological control agents, and prioritized areas for a residential chemical control program. Nearly all of southern California is under quarantine for ACP, due to the fact that more than 15 residential trees have been discovered to be in infected with HLB.

The ACP quarantine in California includes parts of the following counties:  Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Monterey, San Benito, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Stanislaus; and the following entire counties: Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Tulare County, and Ventura.

Asian Citrus Psyllid Cooperative Program California, Arizona, Baja California, and Sonora (USDA-APHIS)
Asian Citrus Psyllid Cooperative Program
California, Arizona, Baja California, and Sonora (USDA-APHIS). Visit our Citrus Diseases page to identify a plant infected by citrus greening, citrus canker, citrus black spot and sweet orange scab. If you detect an infected plant, report it  immediately.

New IPM Work on Brown Stink Bug

New IPM Approach to Brown Stink Bug In Desert Cotton

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

This year, the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Cooperative Extension, Riverside County began an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program to control Euschistus servus, or brown stink bug, a problem in Southern California’s cotton production areas.

Vonny Barlow
Vonny Barlow, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Riverside County

Vonny Barlow, a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Riverside County began evaluating brown stink bug in cotton last year, and he received additional funding this year from a National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant administered through North Carolina State University, to continue his research this year. Barlow just hired two interns to work with brown stink bug in the Palo Verde Valley in Southern California.

The pest was known to exist in Arizona for about eleven years, but was not a critical issue until about three years ago, when it moved into California. California cotton growers had to spend a lot of money to spray to manage the insect, and it just wasn’t economically feasible.

“In many areas in the south, the brown stink bug pierces into the cotton boll with its proboscis-like mouthpart—a stiff, short straw,” said Barlow. “Once the cotton boll is pierced, the brown stink bug tries to feed on the cotton seed. The problem is the puncture allows bacteria to enter and boll rot to set in. Boll rot is the issue because it lowers yield quality; without boll rot, the brown stink bug is much more of a manageable pest.”

Spraying is not the answer to control the bug, according to Barlow. “We are going to look at an area-wide pest management approach by just essentially surveying the pest control advisers (PCAs) and growers about cropping that is near or even some miles away from cotton,” he said. “Where is the brown stink bug showing up? When did it show up? Is it moving? When are you going to harvest? Is it moving into the cotton? That way, we can give the cotton growers a better idea of when they should start management practices for brown stink bug, instead of just routinely calendar-spraying every two weeks.”

“We hope to predict when brown stink bug will move into cotton. Farmers who just harvested wheat should expect it will come into your field within the week. Start scouting; it is another very good IPM tactic to reduce sprays and to better manage pests,” said Barlow.

Featured image: Brown Stink Bug (Source: Brown Stink Bug (Source: “Chemical Efficacy Trial using Select Insecticides against Brown stink bug, Euschistus servus on Commercially Planted Cotton” by Vonny Barlow, University of California, Agricultural and Natural Resources, Riverside County, April 2016 issue of “Postings from the Palo Verde” newsletter)

VIDEO: Other Stressors, Not Pumps, Leading to Delta Smelt Decline

VIDEO: Wasted Freshwater in Failed Attempt to Save Delta Smelt and Salmon

By Laurie Greene, Editor

Other Stressors, Not Pumps, Leading to Delta Smelt Decline,” a video produced by Western Growers, explains why the communities, business, and farmland in the Central Valley and southward still experience regulatory water cutbacks that are extreme in some cases, while 3 billion gallons of extra freshwater flow out to sea in the failing effort to save the Delta Smelt from extinction.Western Growers logo

The VIDEO addresses this loss of freshwater unused by California residents and businesses still suffering from both drought conditions and environmental water cutbacks and that could have gone into water storage.

Decline in California Fish Population and Delta Smelt, Salmon

Western Growers accuses government agencies in charge of managing California’s water of restricting the Delta pumps far beyond what is required by the law. “As a result,” the association said, “billions of gallons of El Niño water have been flushed out to sea. Shutting down the pumps has not helped the Delta smelt and salmon recover, and government regulators are ignoring other stressors such as predation, invasive species and wastewater discharges.”

Delta Smelt Troll 2016
Delta Smelt Troll, Survey 6, 2016: “There were no Delta Smelt collected.”

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Western Growers, founded in 1926, is a trade association of California, Arizona and Colorado farmers who grow, pack and ship almost 50% of our nation’s produce. Their mission is to enhance members’ competitiveness and profitability by providing products and services with agriculture in mind. Services include Affordable Care Act (ACA) compliant health benefits for farmworkers, cost-saving and environmentally-focused logistics, food safety initiatives and advocacy for members. 

They ask, “If you enjoy fruits, vegetables and nuts, support our members and the produce industry.”

Featured Photo: Delta smelt by metric ruler (Source: USFWS)

Food Safety First for Valley Harvesting

Food Safety Top of Mind with Valley Harvesting

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor 

Valley Harvesting & Packing, Inc. is a company of people who don’t even think about slowing down; they simply don’t have the time. Headquartered in the Imperial County community of Heber, the company has major operations in Mexico, California and Arizona that supply labor, logistics, trucking and custom harvesting, while never compromising food safety. The company’s customers include Fresh Express, New Star Organics, Frisco Farms, River Ranch Fresh Foods, Dole, Tanimura & Antle, Natural Selections, and Foxy Fresh Produce.

Founded by Steve Scaroni and his wife, Brenda, in 1983, Valley Harvesting & Packing is not far from their home deep in the Imperial Valley, a few miles north of Mexicali, Mexico. As president of the company, Steve Scaroni has an enormous passion for the vegetable industry and spends this time of year in Oceanside, Santa Maria, Oxnard, Salinas and Watsonville, where about 30 percent of the business is harvesting and providing labor for strawberries. The remaining 70 percent is devoted to vegetable harvest, labor and logistics.

“If you look at the scope of the company, statistically,” Scaroni said, “we are ‘touching’ somewhere in the process about 25 percent of every salad eaten every day,” said Scaroni.

Scaroni Family of Companies SFC, Valley Harvesting & Packing Valley Harvesting & Packing is a subsidiary of the Scaroni Family of Companies, founded by Steve and Brenda Scaroni in 1984, that also includes Fresh Harvest, a major labor provider, staffing company and harvesting company to the leafy green and berry industries, SMD Logistics, a harvesting, logistics and maintenance company with a 24/7 Dispatch Center, and Harvest Tek de México, a year-round farming operation. The SMD Logistics fleet of 50 trucks follows the harvest operations to deliver fresh-picked produce straight to the cooler within one hour.

Scaroni explained, “We have a food safety team overseeing everything we do. We have to do the same thing in Mexico, but even better than in the U.S.” Scaroni commented, “We have a saying in our operation:  Food safety. Everyone. Everyday.”

“Animal intrusion is certainly always an issue,” Scaroni continued, “and you always have to check your water sources. We constantly swab our water tanks. And of course, we are always making sure people wash their hands and no one is sick, has a runny nose or is sneezing. These three things—animals, water and people—are 90 percent of the battle.”

“We believe in and follow the Leafy Green Marketing Agreement (LGMA),” Scaroni emphasized. “The results show that this program works and we are completely focused on that. Every crew has a safety officer wearing a bright yellow and orange vest to ensure that the crew is operating safely.”

To help the supervisor maintain excellent quality, the safety officer oversees the sanitization of the cutting knives which are washed in a bucket with bleach every two hours, on average; before and after work; at every break and during lunch. “Out here, everyone uses a knife,” Scaroni continued, “so we have to make sure no one gets cut. There is also a lot of equipment in the field, so the safety officer makes sure no one gets run-over.”

CCA Exam Signup Open

California Certified Crop Advisor Exam Signup Open

Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) in California and Arizona have the opportunity to register for the August 5, 2016 CCA Exam until June 24, 2016.  The exam will be given in Sacramento, Tulare, Ventura and Yuma.  Registration for the exam is available at: https://www.certifiedcropadviser.org/exams/registration.CAPCA ED

More than 1,000 active CCAs in California and Arizona are playing an important role assisting growers with the efficient and environmentally sound use of fertilizer and crop management.  Many California CCAs recently completed the University of California/California Department of Food and Agriculture Nutrient Management Training Course which qualified them to complete grower nitrogen management plans that are or will be required by the various California Regional Water Quality Boards.

“Crop consultants are encouraged to become CCA s to show that they have the commitment, education, expertise, and experience to make a difference in a client’s business,” said California CCA Chairman, Fred Strauss, Crop Production Services.  “The CCA certification is largest, most recognized agriculturally-oriented program in North America.  The CCA Exam Preparation Course, scheduled in Sacramento on June 24,  will help candidates prepare for the test. Registration for the exam prep course is available at https://capcaed.com/june-24,-2016-ca-cca-exam-preparatory-workshop. 

For more information on the California CCA program, go to: www.cacca.org, or contact Steve Beckley at (916)539-4107 or steve.beckley48@gmail.com for more information. The California CCA Program is also on Facebook.

Pistachios Trump Diabetes

Pistachios Trump Diabetes

By Brian German, Associate Editor

Just eating the right foods can benefit people diagnosed with pre-diabetes or with type 2 diabetes.  Recent research* suggests including pistachios as part of a balanced diet is a sound strategy to help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And the news could increase pistachio imports into China, where the disease is rampant.

Judy Hirigoyen, vice president of global marketing for the Fresno-based American Pistachio Growers organization that represents more than 800 growers in California, Arizona and New Mexico, noted pistachios have a good future in the global diabetes epidemic, especially in China. “Believe it or not,” she explained, “one-third of the entire world’s population of diabetics lives in China. Diabetes is associated, not with overweight or obesity, but with their diet. In particular, a lot of fingers are pointed at a lot of white rice,” she said.

“The good news for the pistachio industry,” said Hirigoyen, “is the Chinese population really loves American products, including pistachios. They’re looking for healthy foods to eat, and pistachios are very widely recommended, especially as part of a diet for someone who either has diabetes or who wants to prevent pre-diabetes from developing into diabetes.”

American Pistachio Growers Infographic - Pistachios and Diabetes
American Pistachio Growers Infographic – Pistachios and Diabetes

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*A study, published in Diabetes Care, suggests that pistachios may have glucose- and insulin-lowering effects and promote a healthier metabolic profile in people with pre-diabetes. (Hernandez-Alonso, P., et al. Nutrition attributes and health effects of pistachio nuts. Br J Nutr. 2015 Apr;113 Suppl 2:S79-93.)

Another study, published in Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases, suggests that daily consumption of pistachios may shift the lipoprotein size and particle profile to a less atherogenic pattern in people with pre-diabetes. (Hernandez-Alonso, P., et al. Effect of pistachio consumption on plasma lipoprotein subclasses in pre-diabetic subjects. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2015 Apr;25(4):396-402.)