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, June 4, 2018
These Bugs Benefit Cotton Growers and the Environment
For the first time this season, field scout Damien Jelen
took his pest-catching sweep net to the fledgling cotton fields across the
Sweep, sweep, sweep … he went snagging
whatever bugs were hovering around the cotton plants, which have reached the
third true leaf stage in development.(After
the cotton seed is planted, cotyledons form and poke through the soil surface. A
bud above the cotyledons will enlarge and serve as the foundation for the true
leaves and branches to develop.)
Well, Damien caught plenty of
bugs.The good news, he reports, is his
catch werebeneficial insects – the good bugs that gobble up the bad bugs that
can damage the crop.
“I caught a lot of beneficials,” Damien said, noting most of
the good insects have been big-eyed bugs. “The bug pressure is low because the
weather is not super hot yet.”
Researchers say some 50 bugs are
potential crop-damaging pests in cotton. Aphids, whiteflies and spider mites
are common pests that can be controlled by beneficial insects. An unsprayed
cotton field can host several million beneficials per acre, according to one
Aphids populate a cotton plant leaf.
You can call beneficial insects the farmer’s best ally. They
are a free source of natural pest control, meaning growers can save money while
protecting our land, water and soil from pesticides.It’s called biological control – using
nature’s good bugs to manage bad bugs in the field and orchards.
Who are these unsung heroes?
Here are a few of the common good bugs:
green and brown lacewings, minute pirate bugs, lady beetles, assassin bugs,
six-spotted thrips and parasitic wasps. Three cheers to these beneficials.
A minute pirate bug gobbles up an aphid.
Meanwhile, Damien reports alfalfa
growers are preparing for their second cutting of the season. (A few early
birds are getting ready for the third harvest.) He says pest pressure is low in
alfalfa as well.