In a year that may go down as the worst insect year across the board, Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Esmeralda Soria toured cotton fields ravaged by lygus and visited a cotton gin and almond huller to see the impacts of having less commodity to run through the plants and consequently a substantial hit on employment here in her District and throughout the Valley. She first visited Pacific Ginning Company and toured the cotton gin. She met with Manager Matt Toste, current Chairman of the California Cotton Ginners and Growers Association, and discussed the impacts to this year’s crop. As a result of the heavy rains, there was a heavy lygus presence early in the season. Due to inaction by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (CDPR), the crop has been devastated by season long presence and destruction of the pest. This resulted in some fields being completely disced under or limited to one or one and a half bales of cotton production compared to the normal 3 bales to acre yields that California growers are accustomed to. CDPR refused to register Transform, a very effective insecticide to control lygus, which is registered and used in every other cotton growing state.
Following the gin tour, the Assemblywoman walked in a cotton field she thought had been picked due to the substantial lack of cotton bolls, but had not yet been harvested.
Then the group headed to Superior Almond Hulling to tour the almond huller. There, after meeting with Manager Mayra Sanchez and Superintendent Richard Espinosa, she learned that their season will be more than a month shorter than normal due to the substantial navel orangeworm damage. This means their 100 plus employees will lose more than a month’s wages due to the shorter season. In a year where the state is experiencing major infestations of fruit flies, a new almond beetle, cottonseed bug, and many other invasive pests, it was important that the Assembly Ag Committee Chairwoman see firsthand the effect these state policies can have, especially as our tool box to combat these pests gets lighter and lighter.