Monday, April 29, 2013

Eagerly Waiting for Cotton to Emerge from the Ground

These are both eager and anxious times for cotton growers.

Cotton seedlings emerge from ground.
First, they are eager to see how their newly planted cotton emerges from the fertile Valley ground. Then they get anxious as they wait for the cotyledons to unfold just above the soil and how the young plant population is doing – or stand establishment.

Taking measurements to assess stand establishment.
At this point of the early season, farmers are starting to assess how well the stand is established in the field to determine how well the crop is growing. The University of California Integrated Pest Management says this: “By comparing the plant population per foot with the seedling rate per foot, you can determine if the stand is optimal, weak or excessive.”

The optimal stands have 30,000 to 60,000 plants per acre. A weak stand falls below that range and requires growers to look for signs of seedling diseases or insects. If there are lots of rows without plants, then growers must consider replanting.

A corn habitat is planted next to a cotton field.
On the flip side, excessive growth may require thinning the crop. A heavy plant population could make the crop vulnerable to insects and diseases. Check out UC IPM online for more information about counting the plant population and assessing stand establishment.

Cotton field scout Carlos Silva and Dr. Pete Goodell of UC IPM checked some Valley fields last week and found stand establishment to be optimal. With the late-spring hot weather, we can expect the seedlings to start taking off. The first true leaf is around the corner. Remember first true leaf is considered a significant development milestone leading to a successful cotton season.

In the meantime, Carlos reports the natural habitat of corn, buck wheat and yellow mustard planted around some of the local cotton fields are doing well. That should be good for helping keep the bad bugs out of the cotton.

The local alfalfa fields are liking the weather, too. Some growers are getting close to doing the second cutting soon. On the pest front, growers need to remain vigilant for the blue alfalfa aphids. We don’t want them to get out of hand.

Jenna Horine has been busy scouting the almond orchards for pests. Counts in peach twig borer traps have been a little high. She’s huddling with UC IPM Emeritus Walt Bentley to get an assessment on PTB. Overall, the almond crop is progressing well.

Trees are loaded with lots of almonds this season.
Could we be poised for another record-breaking year? Growers could get a jump on ensuring bumper crop on Thursday when the San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project conducts its first Almond Field Day of the year this Thursday morning. Here are the details:

Almond Pest and Crop Management Field Day – Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon at the LPGL Ranch, 11599 W. Shaw Avenue, Fresno.  The speakers are: Entomologist Walt Bentley on “In Season Monitoring Pest Pressure and Preserving Beneficial Populations” and Almond Doctor David Doll of UCCE Merced County on “Almond Disease and Nutrient Management for the Spring and Early Summer.” There are 2 hours of continuing education credits available. Don’t miss out on getting expert advice. Feel free to bring any damaged leaves or shoots for identification by the experts. See you there.

 If you want to learn more about alfalfa, Dr. Goodell and UC Extension entomologist Larry Godfrey will lead an Alfalfa Field Day discussion about this season’s outbreak of blue alfalfa aphids in the San Joaquin Valley and other parts of the state. The event is from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday at the Dale Hale Community Center,  O’Banion Park (southeast corner of Center and Lorrain Streets) in Dos Palos. The meeting will look at dealing with the pest today and in the future and how pest control advisors can help. It should be informative. Lunch is included, so come have some lunch and learn more about blue alfalfa aphids.

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