Monday, August 22, 2011

Putting Together a Solid Off Season Game Plan for Alfalfa

In the Bay Area, the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers will be make their final roster cuts over the next few weeks. In the San Joaquin Valley, alfalfa growers also will be making their last cut of the season.

Soon it will be the off season for alfalfa growers and just like pro football coaches they need to set up a solid a game plan for the fall and winter months. You need to tackle potential pest, weed and disease issues to avoid problems with next year’s crop. So fall and winter sanitation for insects and weeds is important. The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management program offers tips for a successful year-round IPM program for alfalfa, including activities for the fall and winter months.

Alfalfa weevils are potential threats.
                     - Jack Kelly Clark photo
 Over-wintering aphids tend to carry viruses into the following year. You also need to monitor for alfalfa and Egyptian alfalfa weevils, which can chew up the leaves.

Fiddleneck weeds emerge in a field.
 - Jack Kelly Clark photo
Soon after the last cut, growers should start surveying the fields for weeds, which start to germinate in late September and October and continue growing through January. Use the UC IPM monitoring forms for weevils (70.2 kb, pdf), aphids (107kb, pdf) and weeds (116.4 kb, pdf) to help you with your record keeping.

Remember, the post-harvest season still means growers need to head to the field with their sweep nets every two or three weeks to check for pests. You should do 25 sweeps each in four different sections of the field. Stick to your game plan and you’ll be ready to kick off your next growing season on a good footing.

Cotton Field Day: We finally worked out the details of our Cotton Production and Pest Management Field Day. It will be Sept. 7 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the McCurdy Farm, south of Firebaugh. UC Cooperative Extension cotton specialist Dan Munk will give important tips about timely cotton termination and pest management practices to avoid sticky cotton. I will give a field scouting update. Check our Sustainable Cotton Project website for directions. We’ve applied for 1.5 hours of continuing education credits. It should be an informative meeting as we head toward the cotton harvest.

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