At the northern end of California’s cotton growing region, Cannon Michael has about 3,000 acres of cotton in the Los Banos (Merced County) area. This is significantly down from the 5,000-plus acres planted just a year ago.

Michael is a sixth-generation grower with Bowles Farming Company in Los Banos and serves as chairman of the California Cotton Growers Association.

Michael predicts a good harvest from the crop of Acala and Hazera cotton. According to Michael, Hazera is an Israeli hybrid of cotton that blends well with Acala and Pima. Hazera also does well in the Los Banos area, where they have less heat units and the climate is generally a little cooler than the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley.

“The Hazera is a little shorter and not as strong as Pima,” Michael said. “Gins can blend this and get a better quality.”

Michael’s reduction in cotton acres was replaced with processing tomatoes and corn, both of which have improved prices this year. From a planting and harvesting standpoint, the corn and tomatoes use the same planters and row spacing.

Like other regions of California where water is scarce, keeping water on Michael’s crop has been a challenge.

“Where we are we have very good access to water because of our pre-1914 water rights,” Michael said. “But it’s still been a challenge due to the heat this summer.”