The answer from the growers at the Tulare meeting is that it will be late — the latest season ever for Extra Long Staple Pima in the San Joaquin Valley. Many Pima fields had not been defoliated by mid-October. The fall weather has been semi-cooperative with warm days, but nights have been very cool. Some defoliants stop working at 60 degrees. The cool weather is hampering Acala/upland defoliations. Tulare County University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Steve Wright said that he has noticed desiccated leaves are sticking to the plant and not dropping off. This would make picking and ginning challenging for both Pima and Acala.

That and the lateness of the season with the threat of fog and wet weather growing daily are  huge hurdles for anyone wanting to get $2 for cotton because it has to get into the bale in excellent quality condition to earn coffee shop bragging rights.

Making the price even more tantalizing is that there may be more Pima in the fields than most thought. That is certainly the case with the Acala uplands which have opened. Many fields are loaded in Tulare County.

There was one report from an Acala grower who had started picking, expecting 2.5 bales per acre. He was putting more than 3 bales into the modules.

“I think everyone will be surprised at yields this year. I think they will be better than most think,” said one of the largest growers in the Valley.

Although the start was miserable because of cool, wet spring planting weather, the summer was mild. There were no long, hot spells to stop cotton set.

San Joaquin Valley growers grow more than 90 percent of the Pima produced in the U.S. cotton belt. The rest is grown in Arizona, New Mexico and Far West Texas.

It is good to hear the buzz about the comeback of cotton in California, but growers are fully aware that it is a long way to harvest.