California’s dairy industry strongly influences row crop farming in California, he emphasized. “Unfortunately, there are those in the dairy industry who are notorious for promising and not being there for the delivery,” he added.

There are other row crop options for the Groefsema family as with other row crop farmers, like leasing ground for vegetable production, but the Groefsemas have not yet gone that direction.

For now, alfalfa remains a good open ground option for Groefsema. “If it were not there, we’d probably be planting more permanent crops. I am sure other growers would be pushed toward the same thing — if hay was no longer economically viable.”

Cotton is hanging in there, but California acreage is expected to take another sharp dip in 2013, due to lower prices than the past two seasons.

“It is still not as cheap as it was four or five years ago, but a huge world carryover is sending the signal that there is too much cotton for the marketplace,” he said.

California’s has a long history of producing the highest quality upland cotton in the U.S. The same history applies to Acala and now ELS Pima and that bodes well for the industry.

“Without the quality premiums we still get for our cotton, I think we would be out of the cotton business,” he said, adding that cotton also remains a good rotation crop in areas where inexpensive water is still available. High cottonseed prices over the past few years, coupled with higher yields due to crop rotations with crops like processing tomatoes, have kept cotton in the open ground mix.

Overall, Groefsema said California agriculture has had a good economic run, especially over the past five years.

“California agriculture is in pretty good shape financially, except for the dairy industry. It is a big bump in the road right now. However, we have all seen the industry struggle at times over the years, and it has always come back strong. I am not writing it off and am hopeful it will come back strong,” he concluded.