Roger Isom says he’s always up for a good challenge, but after the past several months as the new president and CEO of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association (CCGGA), Isom joked that he’s looking for the “rewind button.”

This was Isom’s first annual meeting as the new chief executive of the association he assumed after the retirement of long-time president and CEO Earl Williams. The meeting room at Harris Ranch near Coalinga, Calif. was filled with at least 300 grower members and industry representatives including Ag commissioners and extension farm advisors. Aside from the typical association reports common to meetings like this the formal meeting agenda included a panel discussion on water – or the distinct lack thereof.

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Inside Isom’s notes that he would share in his president’s report was the news that California cotton acreage would likely plummet to 188,000 total acres this year if estimates hold that state and federal water officials will deliver on their promise of zero surface water for California agriculture. This is 100,000 acres less than last year’s harvested totals.

The last time California cotton acreage was that low was before the Great Depression.

“That’s our best-case scenario,” Isom said. “If the state holds true to its zero water allocation those numbers will go lower.”

Isom was referring to the optimistic estimate of 130,000 acres of Pima and 58,000 acres of Upland cotton that could be planted this season.

It’s all due to California’s epic drought.