Michael shared the finding of Race 4 FOV (Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Vasinfectum) - Fusarium for short – in several fields on the farm. The fungus also has been found in the surrounding area. Race 4 FOV devastates most Pima cotton varieties.

“This is a concern for the entire (cotton) industry and is something that we are deeply concerned about,” said Michael, chairman of the California Cotton Growers Association.

“I’ve been studying high resolution aerial imagery of our farm from recent years and I can see there may have been spots that we missed last year,” Michael explained. “They were small, isolated spots. This developed over time in our fields and we just missed it.”

Michael’s Race 4 find was confirmed by UC Davis.

Meanwhile, California ginners are gearing up for an exciting season. Gin manager Mike Hooper of Farmers Cooperative Gin, Inc. in Buttonwillow (Kern County) will gin about 30 percent more acres this season (30,000 acres total). The acreage is evenly split between Pima and Acala cottons.

Hooper expects to start ginning in earnest the third week of October; two weeks later than usual. Farmers Cooperative Gin has two operating gin facilities in Buttonwillow.

“One is currently being converted from a 40-bale-per-hour saw gin to a 20-bale-per-hour roller plant due to the continued move toward roller ginning in California,” Hooper said. “The other is a 40-bale-per-hour combination saw-roller gin which will focus on roller production with the exception of approximately 5,000 bales of planting seed cotton and cotton too short to justify roller processing.”

Stan Creelman, manager, Mid-Valley Cotton Growers, Inc. in Tulare (Tulare County), expects to begin ginning the week of Oct. 17; about two and a half weeks behind normal. The co-op operates a saw gin in Tulare and two roller gins west of Tulare. 

The cooperative’s big news is the reopening this fall of its saw gin in Tipton which was closed for four years.

“We will reopen the Tipton gin due to increased cotton acres and to gin cotton in a timely manner,” Creelman said. “Re-opening the Tipton gin is very significant for us.”

Creelman offered these ideas to cotton growers to help maximize the ginning process and protect cotton quality.

1 – Eliminate contamination in the cotton module. Remove plastic bags and trash from the field before harvest. Acala and Pima cottons are premium cotton. The mills expect premium quality.

2 - Pick the cotton as dry as possible. Do not be in a big hurry to harvest. Try to avoid picking early in the morning or late in the evening. Wet cotton in the module causes problems.

3 – Good plant defoliation is important. Cleaner cotton helps the ginning process and protects the cotton grade.