Monday, July 16, 2012

Cotton Growers Working Hard to Bear the Fruits of Their Labor

 For cotton growers, the hard work this season is starting to show the signs of the fruits of their labor.
Across the Valley, I’m seeing nice, healthy plants with 10 to 12 fruiting branches. The presence of lygus is here and there with no significant numbers in the fields. I’ve heard of some treatment applications, but nothing major.

The hot weather has been good for the plants. Right now, growers are irrigating their fields for a second time – with some on their third irrigation. The frequency depends on the soil type. The sandy soil requires more watering. As a rule, most growers will irrigate their cotton four to five times during the season. Sandy soils are usually irrigated five to six times. By my count, we’re about half way through with irrigation. If you check the calendar, we around the mid-point to the fall harvest.

Looking at nodes above white flower.
Still, we’re far from over the hump. After completing our plant mapping, we can anticipate cut-out about two to three weeks away. Cut-out is the final stage of cotton plant growth before the bolls open up. The plant mostly has more mature fruit with squares and blooms noticeably absent. Terminal growth also ceases.

Simply put, this is the maximum amount of fiber growers can expect by harvest. It’s like your tomato plants. You reach a certain point in the season when those green tomatoes won’t ripen and turn that juicy red color.
                                                    - Texas AgriLife Extension Service graphic
Right now, we’re at seven to nine nodes above white flower – a good sign with benchmark being five nodes above white flower. We’re right on schedule. It could be an above average year for yields this fall. UC IPM offers tips and nodes above white flower and lygus monitoring.

Things are pretty quiet around the alfalfa fields. Every grower is finished with the third cutting with most getting ready for the fourth harvest soon. I haven’t seen any issues with worms.

Field Days Alert: Don’t forget our Almond Field Day is this Thursday, July 19 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Rushing Ranch, 11599 W. Shaw Ave., Fresno. Walt Bentley of UC IPM will discuss late-season consideration for insect and mite management in almonds. UCCE Merced’s David Doll will focus on post-harvest practices to reduce disease and pest issues. He also will offer tips about increasing tree productivity and managing water at harvest. Bring your questions.

 Also, I hope you marked your calendar for our Cotton and Alfalfa Field Day set for Tuesday, July 24 from 10 a.m. to noon at Bowles Farming, the intersection of Hereford and Bisignani roads, in Los Banos. The speakers are: UC IPM Advisor Dr. Pete Goodell on insects and pests in alfalfa and cotton-managing the crop through mid-season; UCCE Fresno farm advisor Dan Munk on cotton crop development and its impact on pest management; and UCCE and UC Davis alfalfa specialist Dan Putnam on current issues affecting IPM in alfalfa. Directions are available in the events section of the Sustainable Cotton Project’s website –  Two hours of continuing education credits have been applied for at each of the meetings. Both field days will offer lots of good information.

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