February 2018

Cotton Field

In Arizona, 2017 turned out to be a mixed bag according to Paul Ollerton, president of the Arizona Cotton Growers Association.

“The yields were all over the board. Personally, I had the best crop ever on my one farm. Then on my other, it was below average for an Arizona yield,” Paul explained.

Climate made 2017 a trying year for growers. Level 3 heat stress in some areas showed growers some crops are not as heat tolerant as previously thought.

“Summer just kept going. It wouldn’t leave,” Paul said. “I irrigated into October and I’ve never had do that before.”

The third week in September brought a cool spell for some which affected crops making it a difficult year to defoliate.

Luckily, 2017 wasn’t all bad. The cotton market keeps going up and is currently sitting at 75 and some change.

“It’s a better price than we saw a year ago,” Paul added.

Ginned cotton remained stable in Arizona but cotton acres were up 10 percent. However, after a difficult 2017, some growers will be moving to only growing alfalfa.

“Everybody’s always asking and wants to know the future. It all depends on the seed companies, where the market goes and climate,” Paul said. “This year was my 37th crop and every year is a little different.”

Bales of cotton ginned in Arizona totaled 289,300. Of this total, 268,850 was Upland varieties and 20,500 was Pima varieties.

California saw an 6 percent increase in ginned cotton in 2017. California ginned 638,550 bales total breaking down to 188,150 bales of Upland varieties and 450,400 bales of Pima.

“Acreage was up this year thanks to increase water availability, something that hasn’t happened in a while,” Roger Isom, president/CEO of the California Cotton Ginners & Growers Association, said. “Lygus pressure kept that increase from being larger but we are happy with the increase. Early indications point towards another increase in acreage this year but we will have to see what happens between now and planting time.”

California and Arizona account for over 94 percent of the Pima ginned in the West, which by the end of 2017 was up nearly 16 percent, according to NASS.


Empire Agriculture has been part of the southwestern agriculture community since 1950.

As an Arizona-based, family owned company, we have a unique understanding of the critical role that growers play in our communities and economies.  We salute your dedication to our industry, and are committed to providing the machines, technologies and resources you need to succeed in every season.

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