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 produced by Gilbert Mohtes-Chan.
Monday, May 9, 2016
Spring Scenes from Almond Orchards to Cotton Fields
It has been quite a sight driving around the San
Joaquin Valley in the past week. Like a scene out of a Norman Rockwell
painting, we saw a deep blue sky and puffy white clouds towering over an expansive
We saw acres and acres of lush almond orchards with
trees brimming with developing nuts destined for markets across the globe.
“The nut set is really nice this year. The nuts are
really large,” says field scout Jenna Mayfield.
the highway, farmers were harvesting alfalfa for the second time this season –
providing valuable feed for the state’s dairy industry. Nearby, we saw cotton seedlings
swaying in the breeze.
“I’m seeing signs of the first true leaf in cotton,”
field scout Carlos Silva points out. The true leaf shows up above the two
cotyledons that develop first on the cotton seedling. True leaf signals the
plant is moving into the vegetative growth stage.
are under control in cotton. Carlos is finding some spider mites and a few
pockets of thrips in some fields but nothing to worry about right now.
Farmers should finish harvesting alfalfa this week
and start irrigating for a third harvest later this spring. Aphid and weevil
counts are low in alfalfa.
Alfalfa caterpillar. - UC IPM photo
is good in farm country. Or is it?
Carlos reports a curious find during his alfalfa
field checks – one or two alfalfa caterpillars and armyworms per sweep of his
sweep net. That’s well below the 10 per sweep threshold. Yet, his find is usual
for this early in the season. Normally, growers start watching for these pests
in the early summer – sometimes as early as late May. Perhaps, it’s just a blip
… or not. Carlos will keep an eye out for these pests.
Almond growers are treating for pests and diseases.
Jenna reports the recent thunderstorms and scattered
rain coupled by warm humid conditions continues to be a
concern to almond growers. There continues to be fungicide applications in
orchards. She’s noticing some growers are applying miticides. These “growers
are trying to knock down the mites early,” Jenna says.
The leaffooted plant bug remains high on the watch
list. One bit of good news from some orchards where Jenna found evidence of
gummosis turned out fine. Jenna cut cross sections of the sample and discovered
no signs of damage in the soft meat.
Jenna points out the unsettled weather could create
ripe conditions for pest problems down the road.
For now, though, it’s so far, so good for almonds,
alfalfa and cotton in the Valley.