Monday, July 11, 2011

The Envelope Please: Alfalfa Growers' BMPs an Award Winner

If there were a Best Management Practices Award in farming, I would surely nominate some of our local alfalfa growers. With cotton entering an important period of plant development, growers are doing a good job trying to keep pests from migrating from alfalfa to neighboring cotton fields.

I’m seeing lots of strips of uncut alfalfa during my travels throughout the Valley. These strips are acting as homes for lygus, armyworms and alfalfa caterpillars and keep these pests away from cotton. At the same time, some growers are treating the strips for the pests. Kudos to these growers and here’s my BMP Award to them.

For a short refresher course, check out the University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program’s online site about managing alfalfa and lygus.

Right now, growers are either on their fifth or sixth cutting of alfalfa. The triple-digit heat is affecting the quality of the crop. The Farmer’s Almanac says the Valley temperatures average around 94 degrees this time of year. Since the unusual rainstorm we had at the end of June, we’ve had multiple days above 100 degrees.

To deal with the quality issues and hot weather, growers are adding a little nitrogen to help push the crop and help the alfalfa grow a little faster. Keep following those BMPs, stay cool and remember your hat and sunscreen.

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