Monday, April 28, 2014

How Many Harvests? That’s the Million Dollar Question for Valley Alfalfa Growers

One down and “TBD” to go.

That what alfalfa growers tell us when asked how many more harvests they have left this season after completing the first cutting of the year. Yes it’s “To Be Determined.”

Alfalfa growers have wrapped up their first harvest.
The drought is causing a lot of uncertainty for growers as they hear politicians, farm and environmental groups and economic folks debate the water issue. For now, we know one thing for certain: There will be at least one more harvest next month.

Field scout Carlos Silva reports a number of growers have been irrigating their alfalfa fields. Others are expected to follow suit after their freshly cut alfalfa finishes drying in the field and is baled and hauled away.
Cotton seedlings are starting to emerge in some fields.

That’s a good sign. Most growers are counting on at least two harvests (some even more) during this drought year before turning off the spigot. Because of tight supplies or high costs, farmers are being forced to make tough economic decisions in deciding how to allocate their water resources.
One bit of good news for alfalfa: Carlos reports pest pressure has been low.

In the cotton fields, the seedlings are emerging from the ground.  To see the cotyledons unfurl is great to see. It’s a first tangible sign that California cotton hasn’t vanished because of the drought.
We all expect cotton acreage to drop this season, but by how much remains to be seen. We’ll keep everyone posted on this year’s acreage forecasts as well as updated on the progress of the crop through the fall harvest.

Excess nuts are dropping early this season.
Meanwhile, field scout Jenna Horine also reported no significant pest pressures in almonds this past week. She continues to see ant problems and urges growers to start taking steps to control them before the summer harvest. 

Jenna says trees are starting to shed excess nuts. Remember, trees can hold only so much fruit. Experts call it “June drop”, which usually occurs in May. This year, the almond season is some two to three weeks ahead of schedule because of the mild winter. Perhaps we should rename this natural thinning process “April drop.”


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