Monday, July 1, 2013

Here Are Some Easy Steps to Becoming a Seasoned Cotton Plant Cartographer

If you compare cotton fields around the Valley, you might notice that something different is happening in each one.
In one, water is flowing through the rows of lush green plants as growers irrigate for the second time this season. Another field might have plants with eight fruiting branches. And in another might have plants in first bloom.
That is what field scout Carlos Silva is seeing as he visits cotton fields around the region.

For cotton growers, keeping track of developments in the field is key to a successful yield at harvest time. This is where plant mapping, or monitoring, comes into play. By keeping track of the growth and development of the cotton plants, growers can use this information to fine-tune management practices during the season.
You don’t have to be a cartographer or scientists to do this. Plant mapping doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here’s one simple method to follow. The cotton season can be divided into four management periods:
·         From plant emergence to square: This is when you count plant stand and height and the number of nodes. Walk around the field and check for drainage issues, missing rows and pest damage. This information will help with replanting and pest management decisions.
·         From first square to first bloom: In this stage, sample at least five plants in four different sections of the field. Then collect information about plant height, the number of nodes, fruiting branches and square retention. Also record fruit set and growth. This information is important for crunching numbers and guiding decisions on pest control and the possible use of growth regulators. For example, square retention calculations can assist in developing pest management strategies.
·         From first bloom to cut-out: This is the time when the plant becomes larger. You record plant height, number of nodes, nodes above first position white flower and first position squares above the white flower and first position bolls below white flower in the first or second position. This information indicates how the crop is developing and provides insights about vegetative growth and boll development as you approach cut-out – the final stage of plant growth before the bolls open.
·         From Cut-out to defoliation: Measure the plants for boll retention, boll regrowth and boll opening. Noting nodes above cracked boll will help with the decision about the timing of defoliation.
UC IPM offers a wealth of information and tools for cotton growers on the site monitoring cotton plant growth.

With the help of these tools and tips, it should be snap to become an accomplished Cotton Plant Cartographer.


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