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Drought: California's 2015 Cotton Planting May Be As Small As The One In 1910

Apr 1, 2015

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California was once the number one cotton growing state in the nation, but the drought has changed that. Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on why the total cotton acreage in the state has dropped.

California cotton farmers are in the process of planting over 170,000 acres of the crop.

That sounds like a lot, but according to Roger Isom the number of acres expected to be planted in the state this year have plummeted to the point of plantings not seen since around 1910.

Isom is the President and CEO of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association.

ISOM: “We haven’t dropped below the 200,000 (acre) mark since then. We can go back to 1992 when we had 1.2 million acres of cotton in California. A little over 10 percent of what it was just a few years back.”

In 2014, 210,000 acres were in bloom in the state. Isom points to drought and conversion to permanent crops as the reasons for the decline.  

ISOM: “The sad part of it is, is we have the highest quality, highest yielding cotton really in the world, but certainly in the United States.   We’re just not going to be able to grow it.”

As a result he says a cotton gin company in Kern County has closed their doors and others are considering the same. He says the only way the cotton crop in the state will increase is with rain or a larger allocation of water.