Monday, March 25, 2013

Central Valley Springs Ahead with Excitement for a New Growing Season

 Ah yes, spring has finally arrived.

In farm country, spring means a fresh beginning as growers plant the seeds for a new crop for the coming season. The late Hollywood actress Helen Hayes who once said: “All through the long winter, I dream of my garden. On the first day of spring, I dig my fingers deep into the soft earth. I can feel its energy, and my spirits soar.”

New field scout Carlos Silva.
Growers, too, feel a great sense of excitement and anticipation. Our spirits, too, are certainly high as the Central Valley Farm Scout prepares to for another busy season in the almond orchards and cotton and alfalfa fields stretching across the expansive San Joaquin Valley.

This season, we welcome our new field scout, Carlos Silva, who will give us a fields-eye view of what’s happening in the cotton and alfalfa fields. Dos Palos native Jenna Horine will continue to give real-time accounts from the almond orchards. Together, Jenna and Carlos will collaborate on the blog.

Giving alfalfa some water to grow.
Alfalfa crop is looking good right now.
We’re happy to note that Carlos is another local product. Raised in Firebaugh, he is a second generation farmer with a lot of knowledge in agriculture. He has worked as a research assistant at Lucero Farms and an ID tagger at the Hammonds Ranch. Carlos earned his bachelor’s degree in technical management from Devry University in Fresno. He’s good at crunching numbers and all those new-fangled high-tech gadgets.

“I have to say that the most enjoyable part of my tasks is actually finding out which kind of pests and beneficial insects are in my net. The amount of insects vary greatly from field to field so there is always something different and something else to learn,” says Carlos. “Working with growers is also great as I know some of my information can help them make more informed decisions about pest management.”

Scooping up alfalfa weevil larvae.
Already, Carlos has been scouting the local alfalfa fields, checking for those pesky weevils. The good news is the bugs have been under control with some growers applying treatments in recent weeks. Here’s the UC IPM online link to learn more about alfalfa weevils and the damage they can do before the first cutting. The site lists gives you treatment guidelines and a list of materials. Remember to consider the impact on the environment when selecting pesticides. That message never gets too old. We certainly want to protect the good bugs, especially honeybees and natural enemies to alfalfa pests.
From our photos and field visits, the alfalfa crop looks to be doing well. Before you know it growers will be making their first cutting this season.

Meanwhile, cotton growers are gearing up for the season. They have been pre-irrigating their fields to prepare for spring planting. They also are tracking degree days to determine the ideal time to plant. Our friend, Dr. Pete Goodell of UC IPM, put together a blog post on timing cotton planting with degree day forecasts.  Lots of good info there.

Vallley growers are pre-irrigating their cotton fields to prepare for planting in the coming weeks.

Another good resource is UC IPM online, which will publish a daily through May 6. Keep this link handy:

Stay with us throughout the season. Let us know how we’re doing. It’s great to hear from everyone. If you see Jenna or Carlos scouting, be sure to give a wave and say howdy.

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