Northern California cotton acreage is expected to increase next season, according to University of California Extension Farm Advisor Doug Munier.

With sugar beets disappearing and tomato acreage on the decline, cotton is one of the few summer crops left for producers.

"The loss of sugar beets looks permanent and tomato acreage decline is likely to be a long term situation. Sunflower and vine seed acreage fluctuates yearly," said Munier. "The real advantage to cotton is that is a national crop and growers can go up or down on acreage depending on the marketing outlook."

Like most California cotton growers, October rains have delayed the Northern California harvest, although the Sacramento Valley crop is no farther behind than the San Joaquin Valley. Both were about 40 percent harvested by Nov. 1.

Yields look good "Early yields looked good before the rains - three bales plus. Of course the final outcome will depend on what happens from now on," said Munier. "Fortunately, the ground was dry and it soaked up the two inches of rain we had in late October. Pickers were back in the field after being shut down a week. I checked the seed and it was still firm after the rain."

This represents the seventh commercial cotton production season for the Northern California.

"I'm not sure whether we'll have a lot of new growers next year looking for alternatives to beets and tomatoes or an increase in acreage from our established producers," said Munier.

"We'll know more on Dec. 8," he said. That is when Munier will host the annual Sacramento Valley Cotton Production Workshop at the Colusa County Cooperative Extension Office in Colusa, Calif. The meeting starts at 9 a.m.

Munier will lead off with a fall bedding-to-harvesting chronology of information tailored to Northern California.

He also will detail results of his 2000 variety trials.

Others on program The remainder of the free workshop will include:

- A panel on pest management with pest control advisors Darrin Williams of Colusa Farm Supply and Mike Pettigrew of John Taylor Fertilizer and Orland, Calif., producer Judy Brown.

- Steve Wright, Tulare County farm advisor, will detail weed control and defoliation.

- UCCE state cotton specialist Bob Hutmacher will talk about planting dates, Pix use, plant populations and irrigation interactions in upland cottons as well as ultra narrow row trials in both the San Joaquin and Sacramento Valleys.

- Mike Thompson of Thompson Cotton in Fresno, Calif., will explain government cotton programs.

- And, John Gilbert from Sacramento Valley Ginning and Mel Amarel of North Valley Gin will provide gin updates, which will include quality and grade information for cotton going through their gins.