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, July 23, 2018
Mapping Out Cotton Growth Can Avoid Disappointment at Harvest Time in the Fall
Drive around the cotton fields in the Valley and you will
notice each field looks a little different.
In some fields, the plants may have eight fruiting branches.
In others, the plants may be seem smaller with fewer fruiting branches.
Yes, every cotton field develops at a different rate. Field
scout Damien Jelen sees it every day ashe visits fields throughout the region.
For cotton growers, charting the progress of their plants is an
important practice that can make a difference in yield and profit.
encourage growers to do plant mapping, which serves a guide for evaluating the
crop’s health during the season.
Charting cotton plant's development can improve yield.
measurements and comparing them to growth guidelines will let growers know how
the crop stands – whether it is doing well or under stress because of pests,
diseases or lack of water. By knowing the status, growers can take proactive
steps to add fertilizer or plant growth regulators, when to time pesticide or
herbicide applications, manage irrigation and identify fruiting problems.
At the moment, plants are around their 12th and 13th nodes,
according to Damien. The first bloom has
occurred in many fields. “The plants are about three feet tall,” he says.
Plant monitoring during early squaring lets growers assess
plant vigor and square retention. They should measure for plant height, the
number of main stem nodes and the first position squares on the terminal five
fruiting branches. Generally, a square retention rate of 80 percent or higher
is ideal for going into bloom.
If retention drops, growers might opt to use growth
regulators to enhance development. They should check with their pest control
advisor or local University of California farm advisor before making any
Here’s one simple method to follow. The
cotton season can be divided into four management periods:
plant emergence to square: This is when you count plant stand and height
and the number of nodes. Walk around the field and check for drainage issues,
missing rows and pest damage. This information will help with replanting and
pest management decisions.
·From firstsquare to first
bloom: In this stage, sample at least five plants in four different
sections of the field. Then collect information about plant height, the number
of nodes, fruiting branches and square retention. Also record fruit set and
growth. This information is important for crunching numbers and guiding
decisions on pest control and the possible use of growth regulators. For
example, square retention calculations can assist in developing pest management
first bloom to cut-out: This is the time when the plant becomes larger. You
record plant height, number of nodes, nodes above first position white flower
and first position squares above the white flower and first position bolls
below white flower in the first or second position. This information indicates how
the crop is developing and provides insights about vegetative growth and boll
development as you approach cut-out – the final stage of plant growth before
the bolls open.
Cut-out to defoliation:Measure the plants for boll retention, boll regrowth
and boll opening. Noting nodes above cracked boll will help with the decision
about the timing of defoliation.
FIELD DAYS: A
trio of University of California extension and farm advisors willoffer tips and
provide the latest developments in cotton across in the San Joaquin Valley
during a field day tomorrow in Mendota. Open to all growers and pest control
advisors, the free event starts at 9:30a.m. atPik-A-Lok Farms on Bass Avenue in
Mendota. Featured speakers are:Dan Munk, UCCE Fresno County farm
advisor and cotton specialist, who will discuss monitoring cotton for improved
yield performance. Bob Hutmacher, UCCE
extension specialist of the Westside Research and Extension Center, who will
provide an update cotton diseases and plant development issues. Jeff Mitchell, associate
vegetable crop specialist at the Kearney Ag Center, will talk about going
beyond the hype of soil health and doing someth
ing about it.
On Tuesday, July 31: UCextension
advisors and a county official will update farmers about the latest trends in
alfalfa field and pest management and pesticide regulations during a field day
in Firebaugh. The event will be from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the
Firebaugh-Mendota United Methodist Church, 1660 O Street, Firebaugh. Featured
·Lynn M. Sosnoskie, agronomy and weed science
advisor, for the University of California Cooperative Extension in Merced and
Madera counties, who will discuss weed control in alfalfa and the chemical,
cultural and biological factors that can affect success and failure.
·Tom Casey, pest control operations official for
the Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office, who will cover current
pesticide use and regulations.
·Nicolas Clark, agronomy and nutrient management
advisor at UCCE Kings, Tulare and Fresno counties, who will offer tips about
insect pest management in San Joaquin Valley alfalfa hay.
education credits have been approved and include one hour of regulations. The
two field days are sponsored by the San Joaquin Sustainable Farming Project,
which provides farmers with valuable strategies to improve yields while
becoming better environmental stewards in today’s challenging economic and
regulatory climate. For more information about the field days, contact Project
Director Marcia Gibbs at (530) 370-5325.