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, May 25, 2015
Cotton Growers Sing Praises: It’s Hip to Have Squares
the word “square” conjures up many thoughts and phrases.
There’s “Square peg in a round hole.” “Square deal.”
“Fair and square.” “Square meal.” And my favorite: “Hip to Be Square,’’ the catchy
hit song by Bay Area rocker Huey Lewis.
Ask some Valley growers and they’ll answer “cotton
They’ll put you square on the fact the calendar
indicates this is the time when the first squares start emerging on the cotton
plants about a month into the season. Field scout Carlos Silva reports squares
developing in early-planted fields.
A pinhead cotton square.
square is the flower bud of the plant. It signals the start of the reproductive
growth period. The square becomes a bud, followed by blooming into a flower and
eventually turning into a boll.
Essentially, the square is the beginning of
what will become the fiber picked at harvest time. It’s the money for the bank.
first stage is a pinhead square. The next is a match-head square, which is described
as one third growth. The last stage is called squaring. To have a successful
crop, you need to have multiple squares per branch.
That’s why cotton experts stress that growers need
to monitor their plant development. During early squaring, they should focus on
plant vigor and square retention.
Spider mites on a leaf.
want to get off to a good start,” Carlos says. To growers, you might say it is
“Hip to Have Squares.”
Meanwhile, Carlos reports the only pests showing up
in numbers in the cotton fields are spider mites. The pest can cause the plant
leaves to turn yellow or red and then fall off, which can hamper square
maturity. Carlos is keeping an eye on some fields where mite populations could
reach the treatment threshold.
In alfalfa, Carlos reports finding some weevils and
alfalfa worms in fields, but not enough to warrant treatment. There are lots of
beneficial insects living in the alfalfa fields. Growers should be
harvesting again soon. Those growing alfalfa near cotton fields are reminded to
leave uncut strips of alfalfa. This will provide habitat for lygus bugs and
help keep them from heading into the cotton fields.
A lot of beneficial insects are populating alfalfa fields.
“Almonds are doing well. I’m not seeing a lot of
nuts dropping,” Carlos adds. Pests are in check and the crop progressing “a few
weeks ahead of schedule.”