Cole Viramontes – Part I

Cole Viramontes recounts a rich family legacy rooted in agriculture, tracing back to his grandfather’s founding of their farm in the 1950s, marking the beginning of a 70-year journey in farming. Initially, his grandfather cultivated various commodity crops, including cotton and grains, laying the groundwork for the farm’s future. The agricultural venture faced challenges, especially when transitioning to the hands of Cole’s father in the 1980s. During this period, the volatility of commodity markets prompted a shift towards vegetable farming, with green chili peppers, onions, and watermelons becoming the new focal points. However, cotton remained a part of their crop rotation.

The farm’s relationship with cotton was complex, influenced by the high costs of water and the uncertainties of the cotton market. It wasn’t until the 1990s that cotton was phased out of their operations, a decision that held until Cole, having worked on the farm throughout his life, decided to reintegrate cotton into their crop selection in the 2010s. Experimentation with upland cotton varieties initially showed promise but ultimately faced market challenges.

A significant turning point came three years ago when Cole explored the cultivation of hybrid Pima cotton after meeting Rick Neuenschwander, who introduced him to the superior qualities of this variety. The decision to adopt Hybrid Pima cotton marked a new chapter for the farm, offering a more premium fiber that could command higher prices in the market. This variety, especially the Gowan’s hybrid, not only elevated the farm’s competitive edge but also increased yield volumes, blending the robustness of upland varieties with the premium quality of Pima cotton.

Now, for the first time, the farm is dedicating its entire cotton program to Gowan Hybrid, a testament to the journey from traditional commodity farming to a niche, high-quality cotton producer. This evolution reflects a deep-rooted commitment to innovation and excellence in agriculture, carried forward from generation to generation.

Vidalia will continue this series with Cole as we progress and dive deeper into other areas, such as soil cultivation, sustainability, and regenerative farming—practices that Vidalia specifically seeks out in the growers it aligns with.