Monday, June 23, 2014

Cotton Cartography Can Set the Course Achieving Better Yields and Profits

Ancient cartographers never imaged anything like Google and Apple maps. For them, hand-drawn maps were perfectly fine. The same is true for cotton growers.

They don’t need fancy high-tech tools to put pen to paper to diagram cotton plant growth during the season – from early squaring to nodes above cracked boll. This practice can help boost yield and profits.

At the moment, plants are at their 10th and 11th nodes, according to field scout Carlos Silva. He is finding more lygus during his field sweeps with summer now here.
Now is an important time to monitor the development and health of the cotton plants over the course of the growing season. Analyzing the results and comparing to UC IPM crop guidelines can help guide important pest and disease management decisions.
Plant mapping doesn’t have to be complicated since you don’t want to fall into the trap of gathering too much information. 

 Plant monitoring during early squaring focuses on plant vigor and square retention.  You should measure for plant height, the number of main stem modes and the first position squats on the terminal five fruiting branches. Generally, a square retention rate of 80 percent or higher is ideal for going into bloom. UC IPM has an online tool to calculate the percentage of retention.

Square retention evaluation helps determine the need for lygus management. Growers should track the percentage of retention of the first-position squares on the top five and bottom five fruiting branches. The information helps determine the need for lygus bug management. Don’t forget to keep records.

If retention drops, growers might opt to use growth regulators to enhance development. They should check with their pest control advisor or local University of California farm advisor before making any application.

Mapping comes in handy later in the season when plants develop further when growers start monitoring nodes above white flower and nodes above cracked boll and looking toward harvest. 
They key to success is doing it regularly to check up on the crop’s progress. Happy mapping.

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