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 farmscape.

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.
Down 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.

Pests 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.

Army beetworm.
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
Life 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.

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