Cary Blake

Associate Editor,
Western Farm Press

Cary Blake, associate editor with Western Farm Press, has 32 years experience as an agricultural journalist. Blake covered Midwest agriculture for 25 years on a statewide farm radio network and through television stories that blanketed the nation.
Blake travelled West in 2003. Today he reports on production agriculture in Arizona and California. He also covers New Mexico and West Texas agriculture for Southwest Farm Press.
Blake is a native Mississippian, graduate of Mississippi State University, and a former Christmas tree grower.

Photos: Dennis Palmer - 2016 Western Farm Press High Cotton Award winner

For the Dennis Palmer family of Thatcher, Ariz., cotton farming is at his family’s core.

“I love to plant cotton,” says Dennis, whose physical size mimics a defensive linebacker in the National Football League. Like a pro football player, Palmer is unafraid to tackle the many challenges in cotton production.

“My favorite time during the cotton season is picking cotton - it’s white and beautiful. It represents the payoff at the end of the year.”

Dennis Palmer: Top-notch producer earns Far West High Cotton Award 3

As cotton grower Dennis Palmer drives his truck through his fields in Thatcher, Ariz., he grabs a paper towel to blow his nose. He is actually allergic to cotton yet the malady has not sneezed or sniffled away his ability to succeed in fiber production.

For Palmer, cotton farming is at his family’s core.

“I love to plant cotton,” said Dennis, whose physical size mimics a defensive linebacker in the National Football League. Like a pro football player, Palmer is unafraid to tackle the many challenges in cotton production.

Louie Colombini tapped national Ginner of the Year 1

Louie Colombini, manager of the Westside Farmers Co-op Gin at San Joaquin, Calif. has won the 2015 Horace Hayden National Cotton Ginner of the Year from the National Cotton Ginners Association (NCCA).

The prestigious NCCA award was presented to Colombini during the National Cotton Council annual meeting held in Dallas, Texas in February. 

According to the California Cotton Ginners Association (CCGA), Colombini served as the group’s 2000-2001 chairman and was selected as the CCGA’s 2002 Ginner of the Year.

106,349 - Record attendance at 2016 World Ag Expo

The 2016 World Ag Expo, under sunny skies and temperatures in the low 70s, drew large crowds seeking the latest and greatest innovations in the business of agriculture.

Foremost on the minds of farmers and ranchers was finding the best tools to make their operations more efficient leading to increased profitability.

About 1,600 exhibitors shared their wares with potential customers who were there to see first hand the products which could fit their operations.

Enjoy these photos at World Ag Expo, courtesy of Western Farm Press.

2015 California grape crush 7 percent lighter

The preliminary estimate is in and the 2015 California grape crush totaled 3,862,385 tons, down 7 percent from 4,144,534 tons in 2014, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

As in recent years, red wine varieties were the largest share of all grapes crushed, at 2,037,083 tons, down 5 percent from 2014. The white wine variety crush totaled 1,662,159 tons, down 5 percent from 2014.

Meanwhile, raisin type variety tonnage was 92,432, down 41 percent from 2014.

USDA awards $20 million in grants for HLB research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded $20.1 million in grants to university researchers for research and Extension projects to help citrus producers fight the disease Huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening disease.

The grants include almost $4 million to the University of California, Riverside, Calif. The funding will study virulence proteins from the pathogen to detect its presence before symptoms appear and to develop strategies for creating citrus rootstocks that are immune to HLB.

Sunny skies welcome crowds to World Ag Expo

At 9 a.m. this Tuesday morning (Feb. 9), the gates to World Ag Expo - the world’s largest annual exposition - will open to welcome a potential crowd of 100,000 attendees over the farm show’s three-day run at the International Agri-Center (IAC) in Tulare, Calif.

While it appears Mother Nature will put smiles on the faces of exhibitors and attendees with sunny to partly cloudy skies in the forecast, it still might be a good idea to throw a poncho and boots in the truck, as attendees at previous farm shows can attest.

Completed ballots due to Almond Board by Feb. 11

Independent almond growers are currently voting to elect four individuals to the Almond Board of California (ABC) board of directors.

Ballots must be returned to the ABC by Feb. 11. Those elected will serve as ABC directors for terms beginning this March 1.

Growers will select two independent grower member and alternate positions, and one independent handler member and alternate positions.

Candidates for the independent grower positions include:

Water supply top 2016 issue for California Fresh Fruit Association
The CFFA advocates for its members which includes growers, shippers, marketers, and associate members.
Unified Wine & Grape Symposium a smashing success
2016 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium draws 14,000 wine industry people from across the globe.
Drought-tolerant sorghum solid option as livestock forage 2

Grain sorghum is a multi-purpose crop which, perhaps similar to the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, has never received the respect and deserved accolades in California until now.

Sorghum is gaining more attention in the Golden State as a multi-purpose, low-input forage crop option for growers. Its primary use is for livestock feed, primarily in dairy cow rations, but also for beef, poultry, and the pet food market.

2016 World Ag Expo around the corner in California’s backyard

As farm show veterans can attest, one of the oldest questions about the annual World Ag Expo, held in Tulare, Calif. each February, is will it rain? With the current El Niño weather pattern, it just might be a good year to pack the boots and a poncho just in case.

New board leaders at California Association of Winegrape Growers

The California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) has five new officers and three new members in board of directors. The new board took effect Dec. 1, 2015.

The following elected members were officers: Chair Aaron Lange, LangeTwins Family Winery and Vineyards; Vice-Chairs Bill Berryhill of Berryhill Family Vineyards and BB Vineyards, and Brad Goehring of Goehring Vineyards; Secretary Mike Testa of Coastal Vineyard Care Associates; and Treasurer Ryan Metzler of Fruita del Soler.

Pocket gophers – No. 1 enemy in subsurface drip irrigation in western alfalfa 4

The war underway in agriculture continues and its strategic battlefield is located underground.

The continued farming skirmish pits western alfalfa growers – who want to upgrade from traditional surface irrigation systems to more water efficient subsurface drip irrigation (SDI) systems - against vertebrate pests, mainly pocket gophers, which chew up underground SDI drip tape.

While the stakes are high and producers have an upper hand, gophers remain the No. 1 enemy.  

California cotton ginner Ron Nimmo passes away 3

California cotton’s Ron Nimmo, manager of the Pacific Ginning Co. Gin in Firebaugh, passed away Dec. 26 after a long battle with cancer.

Nimmo served as a board member and chairman of the California Cotton Ginners Association (CCGA). 

He began his career with Producer’s Cotton Oil and later became a night ginner at Pleasant Valley Gin at Coalinga. He moved to Tranquillity under Jack Lyons, also as the night ginner. He was promoted to day ginner at Mesa Gin, and then moved to Westhaven Gin. 

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