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, September 1, 2014
Following a 3-Legged Approach for a Successful Cotton Crop This Season
Experts say fast-food giant McDonald’s based its
tremendous worldwide growth on a three-legged stool business model. The
combination of three things – operators, suppliers and employees – provided the
foundation to success.
might same cotton growers rely on a three-legged approach to achieve a
successful harvest: Monitoring square retention in the spring to guide lygus
pest management strategy; monitoring nodes above white flower to determine cut-out
in mid-summer and the end of lygus monitoring in mid-summer; and monitoring nodes
above cracked boll (NACB) to establish the time for defoliation around early
Right now, growers are on the third leg and headed
on the back stretch toward harvest time. Most have completed the last
irrigation of the season, according to field scout Carlos Silva.
Carlos says bolls are starting to open up on the
bottom quarter or third of the plants. He anticipates growers will start defoliating
their fields soon.
last year, harvest expects to arrive a couple weeks earlier than usual,
according to growers. You might see the first harvesters roaming the fields in
late September in some locales.
In this final stage of plant
monitoring, the average number of nodes above cracked boll helps growers time
defoliation and determine potential yield loss and the loss of fiber quality in
immature bolls, according to UC Integrated Pest Management.
Here’s what UC IPM says: Ideal timing for defoliation occurs
when unopened harvestable bolls are an average of four or less nodes (including
missing branches) above the highest first position cracked boll. If it becomes
necessary to defoliate a field prematurely at an average of five NACB because
of a honeydew-producing insect infestation, a yield loss of less than 1 percent
will occur; at six NACB the loss will be less than 2 percent.
UC IPM recommends growers pick five
plants randomly from four areas in each field. Select plants that have a
cracked boll on the first position fruiting branch (see the chart). Then find
the top cracked first position boll and use this as “fruiting branch zero.”
Count the number of nodes above the fruiting branch zero until reaching the uppermost
harvestable boll on the plant. This boll should be large and mature enough to
be able to open before the scheduled harvest date. The number of nodes counted
above fruiting branch zero is the NACB. To calculate NACB, take the total
number of nodes above cracked boll and divide them by the total number of plants
Four NACB is used as a target for the first harvest aid
Three NACB is used as a target for defoliant timing in
On pest front, Carlos reminds growers to turn their
attention to aphids and white flies now that lygus bugs are no longer a threat.
While aphids and white flies are mostly in check at the moment, growers need to
remain vigilant to prevent an outbreak that could lead to sticky cotton
In the alfalfa fields, pests also are
under control. Growers have finished irrigating and are now preparing for at
least one more harvest this month. This is good news. It’s turning out to be a
fairly normal season for alfalfa, an important commodity for the state’s dairy
and cattle industry. Because of the drought, growers had been worried that they
would come up short on water and end their season as early as June. Fortunately,
they have been able to get additional water to extend their season through the
In the orchards, almond field scout
Jenna Horine says early varieties, primarily nonpareils, are pretty much harvested.
Last week, she spotted some farm crews heading into the orchards with hand
poles to knock the leftover nuts off the trees. It’s not too early to get those
mummy nuts off and avoid problems with navel orangeworm next year. Kudos to