Monday, April 30, 2018

Field Scouts Poised to Help Growers Battle Pests

Cotton fields are planted. Almonds are growing nicely and pest traps are in place. And alfalfa fields are being irrigated after the first cutting of the season.

Yes, everything is progressing well for cotton, almond and alfalfa growers as we prepare to turn the page on another month. In the Valley, May means warmer weather – and pests – are ahead.

“When it heats up bug populations explode,” almond and alfalfa field scout Damien Jelen says.

Once again, Damien and almond field scout Jenna Mayfield are poised to provide another set of eyes to help growers monitor pest populations in their fields and orchards in Fresno, Merced and Madera counties. 

A sweep net snags pests living in an alfalfa field.
They will keep growers informed and updated on field and orchard conditions, providing reports such as fruit retention data to cotton growers and petiole samples for almond growers. Damien and Jenna also are connected to leadingUniversity of California crop experts to stay on top of any problems.

Field scouting offers an economical and environmentally sound way to help growers make timely pest management decisions before major crop damage occurs. Regular scouting also can help prevent unnecessary treatments.

As field scouts, Jenna and Damien make daily rounds around fields and orchards and write up weekly field notes for each grower. Jenna monitors pest traps set up around almond orchards. Damien uses a sweep net to monitor pest levels in cotton and alfalfa. They know where pests live and what the bugs look like and how to count them.
Jenna checks a pest trap during her field scouting rounds.

So far, Jenna has reported on an early uptick in leaffooted plant bugs. Growers have tackled the pest, but it’s hard to tell how much damage this pest has caused until after the harvest.  Jenna says peach twig borer eggs are on her watch list after inspecting traps in the orchards. So far, the numbers aren’t worrisome – for now.
In alfalfa, weevil numbers are on the rise but they dropped after the first cutting. Damien expects aphid populations to increase once the weather heats up. But overall pests are under control in alfalfa for now.

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