Summer temperatures in November opened the door for a very rapid harvest of California’s 307,000 acres of cotton.

The thermometer hit near a record 80-degree mark the first week of November. Timing could not have been better.

It had been a struggle getting to the harvest point for the 2010 crop with a cool wet spring delaying the start and a relatively mild summer pushing the crop, especially Pima, later into the year.

It was the latest start of cotton picking that veteran cotton producers Charlie Fanucchi of Kern County and John Pucheu of Fresno County can recall.

“Our Pima crop looked more like a green silage crop Sept. 1 than cotton; it was so green and lush,” said Fanucchi, who said he defoliated three times. “We had to to get better grades.”

He started picking around Oct. 25.

Pucheu started a few days ago.

Growers did not want to wait that long, but had no choice. “The cotton was not ready for harvest on time,” said Pucheu.