Monday, September 26, 2011

Better Late Than Never: It's Time for Cotton Defoliation

Finally… Westside growers are ready to start defoliating their cotton plants in preparation for the fall harvest.

It’s been an anxious time for growers. The defoliation timetable is about a week to 12 days later than normal compared to the 30-year average – thanks to the wet spring which delayed planting. Usually, growers start applying defoliants around Sept. 15 to 20 – just as the summer winds down. Well, it’s now fall and growers will finally start this week.

Westsiders have seen their fellow cotton growers in the southern San Joaquin Valley – from Five Points south – already start defoliating their pima and acala crops. Dos Palos growers began last week on their acala.
This year, growers are trying to maximize yields because of the strong cotton commodity prices. That meant holding off as long as possible with defoliation. If Mother Nature cooperates, the wait should pay off. We could see growers achieving an average yield increase of 5 to 8 percent this season. Proper defoliation requires temperatures for several days to be above 80 degrees during in the day and more than 50 degrees in the morning.
The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management website has more information on scheduling defoliation.

Our YouTube video features UCCE
Fresno Farm Advisor Dan Munk.
You also can view the Sustainable Cotton Project’s short YouTube video featuring University of California Cooperative Extension Farm Advisor Dan Munk, who discusses cotton defoliation. The video was taken during  our Sept. 7 Cotton Field Day.

On the pest front, aphids and white flies have been an issue, especially in cotton fields west of Fairfax. But treatments have been effective in managing these pests.
Cotton Tour participants get a first-hand look on Valley cotton cultivation.
Annual Cotton Tour Alert: Once again, buses carrying consumers, apparel company representatives and textile industry officials will be crisscrossing the Valley during our annual Cotton Tour on Tuesday, November 8. The price is right for the tour – FREE. Participants have the opportunity to meet growers, visit a gin and even pick some cotton. Buses will leave the Best Western Apricot Inn – Interstate 5 and West Panoche Road about 23 miles southwest of Firebaugh – at 8:30 a.m. and return about 4 p.m.  Spread the word to anyone you think is interested in joining us. Registration is required. Sign up at

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