Welcome to our Ag Blog. Our field scouts will offer a unique ground-level perspective from the field to you as an independent field scout with the San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project. Our mission is to promote sustainable farming systems throughout the Central Valley and provide you with the latest information about cotton, almond and alfalfa crops. From time to time, you'll also find guest posts from our project team and other contributors. This Blog is edited by Gilbert Mohtes-Chan.
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
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:
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.
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
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.
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.