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SJV cotton acres estimated at 900,000

The board estimated there’s only 900,000 acres planted in the valley this season, compared to about 880,000 last season. Of that 900,000, more than 250,000 is likely Pima, well above last season’s 145,000 Pima acres.

Assuming the 250,000 acres of Pima is correct, that leaves only 650,000 acres of upland cottons, including both Acalas and so-called "California uplands."

The board says 110,000 acres of that 650,000 is either the California uplands or other non-approved Acalas and Pimas being grown in test plots or seed increase plots, leaving barely more than 500,000 acres of once prized and protected Acala varieties planted in the valley where at one time more than 1.2 million acres were produced.

The SJV cotton board will spend $225,000 monitoring non-approved acres.

The board will spend $741,965 for approved cotton monitoring, up from last year’s $526,082. There are now 51 Acala and Pima cotton varieties on the board’s approved list. All of these funds are raised by assessing planting seed sales.

The board at its recent meeting ballyhooed the fact that the 110,000 acres of non-approved cottons represented a 50 percent drop from last year’s non-comparable 212,000 acres. However, last season’s "non-approved cottons" included a large acreage of Acala-type cottons like Phytogen 72 and Nova BXN. Both were in the final year of the three-year mandatory SJV board testing program necessary to gain approved status. However, they were still considered non-approved last season. After board endorsement, they became approved in March.

However, under the new law which opened the valley to all varieties four years ago, those soon-to-be approved cottons could be grown unrestricted, and they were for seed increase in 2000 in anticipation of release last March.

In other actions, the Board honored two long-time leaders, Norm Clark of Dos Palos, and Fred Starrh of Shafter. Both are former SJV Cotton Board chairmen.

Clark and Starrh received recognition from California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary William (Bill) Lyons Jr. for their tenure on the board and service to the valley’s cotton industry.

Clark began serving on the board in 1979 and was chairman from 1986 to 1999. He still serves on the board as a Fresno County representative. Major changes were made during his tenure, including the revisions in 1998 opening up the valley to all varieties.

He succeeded Starrh who chaired the board from its inception in 1979 until succeeded by Clark. The board was created when the federal government got out of the cotton breeding program and the valley was opened up to all commercial cotton breeders. Starrh remained on the board until he stepped down earlier this year.

Current board chairman is Bill Stone of Stratford.

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