This could be the San Joaquin Valley's biggest Pima cotton acreage year that never was if it keeps raining.

Pallets of Pima cotton seed await a few clear warm days as the “deadline” for planting Extra Long Staple cotton varieties is at hand.

Although many have pushed past the magical April 15-20 deadline in past seasons for seeding Pima, it is risky business since early fall fog and rain can do major price-discount damage to ELS cotton.

However, with Pima spot prices at about $1.30 per pound and SJV Acala prices half that now, there may be more than a few growers who will risk it in 2006.

USDA says there are thousands of seed pallets in farmstead sheds and barns, enough to plant an estimated 290,000 acres of SJV Pima this season, an increase of more than 25 percent over last year. Even more robust predictions have estimated the 2006 acreage would reach 325,000 or more. Overall, USDA is predicting Pima acreage in the four Pima-producing states, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California, will be up 24 percent to 334,000 acres.

The acreage guessing game will become more definitive May 23 when Supima, Western Farm Press, California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations and the University of California hosts the fifth Pima Production Summit at the Visalia Convention Center, Visalia, Calif.

The free conference will open with registration and continental breakfast at 8 a.m. with the first speaker at 9. There will be a luncheon, followed by the regular meeting of the San Joaquin Valley Cotton board in the same meeting room.

Scheduled to give the 2006 market/acreage outlook is Jeff Elder, vice president, cotton marketing, J.G. Boswell Co., the valley's largest Pima cotton grower.

Also scheduled to speak are:

  • Earl Williams, president of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association, on the roller ginning capacity in the valley and an update on new high-speed roller gin stands.

  • Jesse Curlee and Marc Lewkowitz, both from Supima, on new worldwide Pima marketing and promotion of Pima cotton products.

Also, UC farm advisors and Extension specialist will provide updates on Pima cotton research projects.

For information and advance registration e-mail hcline@farmpress.com