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.

2018 Cotton Crop Proceeding Well

Late Season Pests Can Be a Challenge

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The 2018 cotton harvest will be starting in the southern part of the Central Valley later this month, and some growers will be facing pressure from pests.

California Ag Today recently spoke about the topic with Dan Munk, a UC Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor in Fresno County specializing in irrigation crop nutrient management and cotton production systems.

“The crop looks very good and loaded with cotton bolls. We don’t have a lot of boll losses, and that’s a real positive thing, so very excited about the potential for fairly high yields in the 2018 season. The biggest concern right now is pest management, press pressures as we approach the latter part of the season,” Munk explained.

The main issue this time of year is the honeydew that pest leave on the cotton. Honeydew is the exudate extracted by the insect as it feeds on the leaves.

“Because we have the bolls on the plant that have opened, we now have exposed lint and need to protect that lint from stickiness that’s created from whitefly and the aphid honeydew, which is basically the added sugars that those insects that feed on the leaves of the plant, and they excrete them and deposit them on the lint,” Munk said.

Munk explained that the big concern right now is dealing with pest pressures in terms of whitefly and aphid—both sucking insects. “The problem right now [is] where we’re seeing pest pressures—particularly from whitefly as we get later in the season—will build in many fields.

There are several approaches to controlling whitefly and aphids. One is to deal with the eggs that they produced. And then there’s a certain class of materials to deal with the eggs.

“There’s another class of materials that deal with the juveniles—that early form of the insect—and then there are ways to control the adults,” Munk said.

“A number of insecticides have been applied to deal with those various levels of insect populations based on the individual field situation,” he explained.

Mills Seek Out California Cotton Crop

California Cotton Crop Has High Quality

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

California Ag Today recently spoke with Dan Munk, Irrigation Soils and Cotton Farm Advisor of the UC Cooperative Extension in Fresno County, about the state’s cotton crop. California farmers have an advantage in that they get a higher price per pound due to the high quality produced.

Dan Munk, UC Cooperative Extension, Fresno County

“The San Joaquin Valley, and really California, does enjoy the production of higher quality cotton,” Munk said. “When mills are looking for the highest quality, extra long staple cotton, oftentimes they’re going to be going straight to California because of the consistency of the crop, the good color, the good strength, the good fiber qualities that typically make up a good and optimum fiber for translating into fabric.”

Munk said that an extended gin period could be implemented due to the increased crop in the Valley. “I’m not aware of any closed gins that are going to be opening up after closure. Although that might be the case for one or two, I imagine we’ll see extended gin period this year to take care of the additional crop.”

And while there is a trend to go with innovative harvesters that produce round bales of cotton, that will only be true for bigger operations, Munk sad.

“It’s going to be popular for the larger growers, and so we are going to see increases in equipment for those round bales, but for the most part, many of the smaller growers will not be converting any time soon to move to those round bale producing pickers,” he said.

Munk explained that the rainstorm coming through the Central San Joaquin Valley in early September had a minimal effect on the cotton.

“Certainly, parts of Fresno, Tulare and Kings County … there’s parts of the Valley that got quite wet, I’m sure. But most of the cotton had not opened, and because of those delayed crops, we’re probably not going to be impacted in a significant way at all by the rains that we saw,” he said.