Table of Contents:
- Attaboys aplenty to California, Arizona cotton industry
- Cotton respect
- It has been a privilege to write about the Western cotton industry. Cotton paid for the dirt where many crops now flourish.
They’re called attaboys; plaques given to folks by organizations to recognize a person’s work or accomplishments.
Over the years, I have received far more than a fair share of attaboys. It is always humbling and embarrassing to receive recognition for something I feel absolutely privileged to do.
Earlier this year the California Cotton Growers Association presented me with its Distinguished Service Award.
There was a picture taken at the presentation. It has not run in Western Farm Press until now. I admit to an overblown ego, but a picture of me getting an award from California cotton growers is most uncomfortable, especially when I recall the photos I have taken of past recipients. It is running here because I want to acknowledge CCGA for the nice honor and thank its members once again. The Arizona Cotton Growers Association presented me with a similar award and my successor Cary Blake, the new editor of Western Farm Press, elected to run a photo of me in a recent issue.
As I struggled with what do to in acknowledging these attaboys, I sought the counsel of Farm Press’ director of content and friend Forrest Laws. He has been in this business almost as long as I have and has picked up plenty of attaboys. His wise counsel was to write about these recognitions by acknowledging how absolutely vital the hundreds of growers, ginners, marketers and others in the cotton industry have been to me in doing my job. I could not have written one line of a single story without them. Thanks, Forrest. You are spot on.
I have written about cotton almost my entire career and that journey has taken me from West Texas to Arizona to California. I love cotton. Western cotton is an incredible success story. A cotton article may well be the last one I write.
Western Farm Press has been criticized as a “cotton magazine.” Guilty as charged. Cotton was long the primary topic of Farm Press, and cotton will be a part of the publication for as long as I’m around. Unfortunately, though, cotton acreage has declined dramatically in California and Arizona, and you see far more stories about non-cotton crops in these pages today. Other crops simply offer more profit as farming costs skyrocket. Make no mistake, though, cotton paid for every piece of dirt in the Southern San Joaquin Valley and Arizona, with fields now growing melons, lettuce, broccoli, strawberries, processing tomatoes, almonds, grapes, pistachios, pomegranates, walnuts and the list goes on and on. Cotton made the southern San Joaquin Valley and Arizona the agricultural successes they are today.
Some like to unfairly criticize cotton for things like pesticide and water use. California and Arizona cotton growers are the most progressive practitioners of Integrated Pest Management of any agricultural group. They have reduced pesticide use dramatically over the years.
The San Joaquin Valley pink bollworm program is a stellar example of that. For 45 years — four and a half decades — the pink bollworm has been kept out of the San Joaquin with one of the most innovative pest exclusion programs ever created. Every dime of the program's cost came out of the farmers’ pockets. That program saved millions of dollars in pesticide costs and precluded the need to apply millions of pounds of pesticides by using pheromone technology and sterile moth drops. It is one of the most successful pest exclusion programs ever in American agriculture.