Monday, October 1, 2012

There Are Sure Signs the Cotton Harvest is Fast Approaching

 Did you see the speculator Harvest Moon lighting up the night sky over the weekend? It’s a sure sign fall has arrived.

Around here, it means the Big Fresno Fair, Oktoberfest and, of corse, the cotton harvest are just around the corner. As I drove around the Valley last week, I saw a flurry of activity in the fields. Cotton plant defoliation is in full swing, especially in the acala varieties.

Cotton defoliation is in full swing throughout the Valley.
For the most part, the timing is perfect for defoliation.  The acala plants are averaging 4 to 5 nodes above cracked boll, which is around the target the University of California Integrated Pest Management recommends for scheduling defoliation.

I’m seeing the pima varieties, which are usually harvested later into the season, at about 5 to 6 nodes above cracked boll. By the end of this week, we should see Pima growers starting to apply their harvest aids.

At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the first acala cotton harvested between October 10 and 15.
On the pest front, some growers have treated for aphids as a safeguard to prevent sticky cotton. Those with light aphid problems are going straight to the defoliation process.

Alfalfa growers are wrapping up for the season. Some are trying to squeeze out one more cutting and irrigating their crop. Growers are counting on the summer-like fall weather to spurt growth one last time.

We certainly baked this summer. Our August heat wave was followed last month by more above average high temperatures. Consider this from the National Weather Service: The average high temperature was 96.9 degrees in September. That’s almost seven degrees above the historic average of 91 degrees. In fact,the Fresno area experienced the warmest August and September on record. We expect temperatures to hover around triple-digit temperatures through Wednesday as well. Our Indian Summer sure feels more like real summer.

Nut sampling can indicate pest damage in almond orchards.
In the meantime, the almond harvest remains in full swing. Tree shaking is pretty much universal for all nut varieties now, reports our almond field scout Jenna Horine. Nuts are usually left on the ground eight to 10 days to dry before they’re swept up, loaded onto trucks and transported to the huller.

Remember, UC IPM recommends growers take samples before delivering the nuts to the huller. This lets you know what pests are in the orchard and helps with pest management planning next year. Jenna has collected all the samples from the orchards she scouts regularly. She plans to start crack-out within a week. We’ll let you know what she finds.
Cotton Tour participants will be seeing a harvester at work.

Cotton Tour Registration: Our annual event is filling up fast. While the event is free, participants need to reserve a spot for the all-day event on Friday, October 19. The tour begins at the Best Western Apricot Inn at Interstate 5 and West Panoche Road, about 23 miles southwest of Firebaugh. Go to the Sustainable Cotton Project website to sign up.

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