California’s reputation for clean, quality cotton is a concern this year due to limited acreage and sticky cotton reared its head last year.

While pink bollworm survey numbers will not confirm it until July, Roger Isom, president of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations, is relatively confident in early acreage estimates of 188,000 for the statewide crop. Isom expects 130,000 acres of Pima and 58,000 acres of Upland cotton.

This is about half of last year’s total California crop. Drought is the major factor in declining acreage numbers this year.

Industry leaders are working to get ahead of the sticky cotton issue this year through three meetings hosted by the Fresno-based California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations. The meetings were held in Tulare, Shafter and Five Points in mid-June.

Isom says the industry intends to host outreach meetings at various gins in the coming weeks to address the issue.

According to Pete Goodell, IPM expert with the University of California Cooperative Extension, the issue is one of sugar left behind by feeding white flies. This is why control of the pests is vitally important for the industry. Early July is not too soon to begin surveying cotton fields for whitefly populations.

“What you end up with is a fluffy cotton boll covered in sugars that collects everything,” Goodell said.

“Think of it as cotton candy at the carnival,” he told growers and pest control advisers (PCAs).

“Here’s the pun of the day,” Goodell joked, “Once a region develops a reputation for sticky cotton it really sticks with you.”