Mark Christopher Watte, a proud and dedicated California farmer, plus state and national farm leader who stood tall for the industry on drought and other issues, passed away June 17, 2016 after a bout with cancer.
Watte operated his family farm called George Watte & Sons (George was Mark’s father). Mark grew cotton, alfalfa, triticale and corn for silage, black-eyed peas, pistachios, plus operated a 1,000 Jersey-cow dairy at Tulare.
The Watte farming operation included Mark’s loving wife Joanne, Mark’s brother Brian Watte, his nephew Matthew Watte, and his son-in-law Jason Starr.
Mark’s cotton was ginned at the Mid-Valley Gin in Tulare and the County Line Gin, Inc. in Hanford.
Mark received the 2015 Western Farm Press High Cotton Award in San Antonio, Texas. Read Farm Press’ article on Mark’s family and their successful farm operation online at
Watte was the chairman of Cotton Incorporated until his death.
He farmed for 40 years and was a leader over the years in bringing technology to their farm, including GPS and laser leveling, site specific soil sampling, and variable rate fertility.
Mark was an advocate of agricultural research and supported university research trials conducted on the Watte farm, including seed variety testing, roller ginning Acala cotton, plant mapping, and pressure bomb use for better irrigation decision making.
At the civic level, Watte was heavily involved in giving back to agriculture and the community. He served on the boards of the California Cotton Growers and Ginners, the Friant Water Authority, and the local People’s Ditch (water) Company.
Watte was selected as the Tulare County Agriculturalist of the Year.
Previous leadership roles included past vice-chairman of the California-based Calcot Limited cotton marketing cooperative, Tulare City Council member, and as the city of Tulare’s ‘Man of the Year.’ Joanne served as the city’s ‘Woman of the Year.’
In 1992, Mark served as the volunteer chair for World Ag Expo – the largest outdoor farm exposition in the world held in Tulare – where he continued to volunteer annually. He is a past board member of the local Farm Credit association.
Watte told Western Farm Press that he was most proud to “walk in the boots of a farmer, and continue his family’s farming legacy as food and fiber providers" - a family tradition started more than 100 years ago.
Farm Press extends sincerest condolences to the Watte family and their many friends.
Visitation will be Wednesday, June 22 from 4-7 p.m. at Miller’s Tulare Funeral Home, 151 North H Street in Tulare. The Recitation of the Rosary and Mass of the Resurrection is Thursday, June 23 at 10:30 a.m. at St. Aloysius Catholic Church located at 125 E. Pleasant Ave., Tulare.
Burial will be at the North Tulare Cemetery.
Donations, in lieu of flowers, can be made to the Watte/Griesbach Memorial Fund, 627 Beatrice Dr., Tulare; or the Tulare Hospital Foundation in Tulare.
Arrangements are being handled by Miller's Tulare Funeral Home.