Monday, April 11, 2016

April Showers Come with the Good and the Bad

We’ve all heard the rhyme “April Showers Bring May Flowers.”

That’s certainly welcome news for a parched farm region.  And I’m sure flower growers and dry land farmers welcome the weekend rains that fell across the Valley.The Weather Service recorded nearly an inch of rain in the region from storms last Friday and Saturday. 

Of course, there also is the saying “Too Much of a Good Thing Is Bad.”  Well, sort of – if you’re a grower trying to schedule your cotton planting during this on-again, off-again stormy weather.

“Growers are waiting for the rain storms to pass,” says field scout Carlos Silva.

Cotton seeds waiting to be planted in the Valley.
Yes, growers say they are poised to get started on a new cotton season. Right now, growers are checking the weather forecasts, measuring the temperatures and working on calculations. 

To decide the best time to plant, UC IPM says the “optimal planting time depends on soil temperatures at planting and during the five days following planting. Cotton seed requires approximately 50 degree-days to accumulate in order to emerge when planted at an optimum planting depth. It is also important that temperatures be consistently warm and don't drop during the first five days after planting.”
As a rule, growers should have been taking temperature readings in their fields since early March and continue through the end of this month. UC IPM provides daily temperature readings on its “Cotton Planting Forecast” online site.

Meanwhile, April showers and winds continue to pose a threat to almonds. The foul weather can spread fungus spores that lead to plant and fruit diseases. Field scout Jenna Mayfield says growers had been kept busy applying fungicides to protect their crop this year as well as next season.

It will be interesting to see how the almond trees respond to this year’s relatively normal rainy season after going through four extremely dry years. Trees were definitely stressed as growers grappled with water availability. Now, they had plenty of water to soak up this year.

Jenna also reminds growers to stay proactive on the pest front. They need to say on top of pests such as the leaf-footed plant bug and stink bug. Remember, she says, it pays off to stay vigilant.

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