Monday, September 12, 2011

SJ Valley Cotton Growers Are Gearing Up for the Harvest

More than 30 growers and PCAs attended our Cotton Field Day last week.
Growers check out the progress of the Pima cotton during our field day.
Around the Valley’s cotton fields, there’s excitement in the air. Growers are both eager and anxious about the upcoming harvest.
That was the buzz among the 31 growers, pest control advisors and county ag officials attending our Cotton Production and Pest Management Field Day last week at the McCurdy Farm south of Firebaugh. We had a great turnout and learned a lot from University of California Cooperative Extension cotton specialist Dan Munk.
Dan Munk, left, chats with local grower.
Here are some of Dan’s observations about the cotton season so far:
 Most growers this year are concerned about the lateness of this year's crop. This season we saw very late planting conditions and a cool post-emergence period that caused a delay in vegetative growth and more importantly a delay in the date of first flower, a growth measure linked to yield. Because of the cool spring conditions, most fields in the area did not begin to bloom until after July 4 with some fields reporting average first bloom in mid-July. This is a particular problem for the Pima crop since it requires an additional two weeks to produce effective bloom than upland cotton types. We want to try to mature as many late season bolls as possible and we want the plant to be in cut-out while there are enough heat units to mature the boll properly. However, in some fields, we are not going to have an opportunity to harvest everything the plant produces this year because of the delayed crop development.
In terms of pest management pressure, there has been both good and bad during the season. We have had some mixed results. But generally speaking we’re going to expect average yields to above average yields, which is really not expected for a year with such a late start. Growers generally have done a very good job of managing their fields to ensure maximum yields.
Pima cotton field at the McCurdy Farm.
With irrigations terminated, it’s time to begin thinking about the harvest. We want to do that in a timely manner so we allow as many bolls as possible to open up. That means monitoring nodes above cracked boll and applying the right materials at the right time to have an effective defoliation.
From the discussions at the meeting, many growers are looking forward to a good harvest and the discussion about harvest aid timing was particularly useful.
(For more information about cotton defoliation schedule, check the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management website.)  Thanks again to Dan Munk for taking time to meet with growers and answer their questions. 

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