Bowles Farming Co. Shares Success Secrets

Google Hangouts Helps Bowles Farming Communicate Throughout 

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

When it comes to agriculture, Merced County-based Bowles Farming Company has it figured out. With 160 years of experience, and six generations worth of history, the company has had a major influence on the state. Danny Royer, Vice President of Technology at Bowles, has valuable insight on what makes the company so successful.

Royer is in charge of the technology behind growing various crops including tomatoes, cotton, wheat, watermelon, and other organic commodities. He said that the key to solving issues is by sharing data within the operation.

“Data is what’s going to provide the solution, but we have to create systems that give the people [the data] who have the competencies to solve the problem,” he explained.

One way Bowles Farming Co. is able to achieve this is by using Google Hangouts on the farm, which enables them to communicate with different sectors of the operation single-handedly.

“We’ve got to be a little more transparent and open about sharing our information with people that are coming from the tech sector trying to help us,” Royer said.

Innovation is Bowles Farming Co.’s #1 Objective

Bowles Farming is Major Innovator in Merced County

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

As every industry continues to be pressured by increasing technologies and the expectation to innovate, it is without question that agriculture is no different. With 160 years of experience growing various crops, Bowles Farming Co. in Merced County is not only a leader within the industry but strives to stand on the forefront of innovation.

Danny Royer, Vice President of Technology at Bowles, gave insight to California Ag Today recently as to how his company is using technology to make irrigation more efficient.

“There’s a lot that goes into the irrigation before it even gets to the farm,” he explained. “Our canal company that delivers our water is working on automating their system to meet our automation needs.”

Royer is utilizing water control and data gathering technology through innovative companies such as WaterBit and WiseConn to better regulate how Bowles Farming Co. resources are used.

He is in charge of the technology behind growing various crops, including tomatoes, cotton, wheat, watermelon, and other organic commodities. He said that the key to solving issues is by sharing data within the operation.

“Data is what’s going to provide the solution, but we have to create systems that give the people [the data] who have the competencies to solve the problem,” he explained.

One way Bowles Farming Co. is able to achieve this is by using Google Hangouts on the farm, which enables them to communicate with different sectors of the operation single-handedly.

“We’ve got to be a little more transparent and open about sharing our information with people that are coming from the tech sector trying to help us.”

Royer concluded, “the most important thing when we talk about tech and ag is talking about the impact on the operation … people’s jobs are going to change, how people function is going to change, and if you rule tech out, it’s going to be resisted.”

Cotton ELS Prices Good, While Upland Cotton is Bleak

Upland Cotton Prices Down; Extra Long Staple Types Are Up

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

 

Upland cotton prices are still bleak, falling 10 cents per pound over the last month, and are now in the .85 to .95 cents a pound range. However, there is a glimmer of good prices ahead for extra long staple (ELS) cottons on the open market.
Many growers forward contracted the just-harvested crop that might have returned a decent price, but the Pima and other ELS types are still holding a good price,” said Cannon Michael, V.P. Bowles Farming Co., in Los Banos Calif., who farms more than 11,000 acres of row and field crops, including cotton throughout Merced County.
“I know some guys that have booked some pricing of ELS for 2014 at $1.60 to $1.70, but that’s a market that operates in a different world,” said Michael. “There has been good demand, the world crop is down, and California does not have that much Pima this year due to an overall decline in cotton acreage.”
In 2013 California growers planted 90,000 acres of Upland cotton, down 37 percent from last year. ELS plantings in the West declined nearly 14 percent to 206,000 acres with largest decline -35,000 acres in California.
“There is more optimism on the ELS side due to higher prices,” said Michael. “But there is so much pressure on Upland cotton as far as what China and other areas of world can grow, so the prices are on the depressed side.”
Michael noted that farmers in his area grow the Hazera type of ELS, an Israeli hybrid type which is not as strong as Pima, but has the staple length and other properties. “It performs like an Upland type in terms of yield in the north end of the Valley, but pays about 10 cents less than Pima.

“While the Hazera seed is more expensive and does not have any Roundup Ready traits,” Michael commented, “it has a better quality fiber that the mills are looking for right now.”