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Attention To Detail Is Key In 2012 print email

Nick Groenenberg
Agricultural Consulting
Hanford, Calif.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Maybe not that dramatic, but certainly another interesting year in cotton production. Beginning with a relatively cool spring and continuing with a very mild summer presented challenges for cotton farmers. Harvest was delayed because of the mild temperatures that delayed crop maturity, but harvest is now nearly complete. Yields look good and so do the prospects for next year’s cotton acreage. Several years ago, the price and water supply were down, which caused cotton acreage to drop off substantially. This year, I walked three times the number of cotton acres compared to two years ago. In a time of historically high cotton prices, cotton will no longer be referred to as poverty weed.

This year, the cool spring again caused seedling disease to rear its ugly head. Growers need to be vigilant about field selection for next year and rotate crops as much as possible to avoid planting into a bad situation. Rotating to a crop, such as wheat or barley that is not summer irrigated, should help with seedling disease. Also, select the proper cotton variety, seed treatments and in-furrow fungicides.

Decisions on weed control used to be whether to use Treflan, and the rest was hand hoeing. Today, with Roundup Ready (RR) varieties and many herbicides available, this decision becomes much more complicated. With herbicide selections, keep in mind their compatibility with next year’s crop, especially if vegetable crops are in the rotation. With RR varieties, I still recommend using residual herbicides at layby to pick up weeds that glyphosate has trouble with and to help prevent development of resistant weeds. Herbicide failures can usually be traced back to improper use, whether it is timing, application or weed spectrum.

Insect control and preventing insect damage requires vigilance and persistence. Applying an in-furrow insecticide at planting will help with early season thrips and slow mite development. Experience has shown that applying in-season miticides before problems develop will give the longest and most economical control.

Lygus is the pest that can cause great economic damage quickly if not properly controlled. New data from the University of California have shown that lower treatment thresholds need to be implemented, especially in the first four to six weeks of fruiting. Scouting fields twice per week and treating as soon as a problem is found will help to minimize lygus damage. Plant count information is also helpful to access plant development with respect to lygus damage. Insecticides should be selected based on efficacy, least disruptive and re-entry interval (REI). REI is especially important during an irrigation cycle where field access is necessary.

Cotton production is challenging and can be rewarding if we remain persistent and pay attention to details. This year looks rewarding.

Click here to ask Nick Groenenberg a question or submit a comment about this month’s Cotton Consultant’s Corner.

• B.S. in Plant Science – California State University, Chico
• Independent consultant for 23 years – cotton, tomatoes, garlic, onions, wheat, alfalfa, corn, pistachio, almonds, pomegranates, etc.
• California Pest Control Advisor (PCA) and Certified
Crop Advisor (CCA)
• Served on local CAPCA board as Education chairman
• Currently serves on Garlic and Onion advisory committee
• Married to wife, Nancy: Three children and two grandchildren
• Enjoys spending time with family, reading classics,
cooking and grilling

Recap:
Attention To Detail Is Key In 2012

1. Rotating to a crop, such as wheat or barley that is not summer irrigated, should help with seedling disease. Also, select the proper cotton variety, seed treatments and in-furrow fungicides.

2. With herbicide selections, keep in mind their compatibility with next year’s crop, especially if vegetable crops are in the rotation.

3. With RR varieties, I still recommend using residual herbicides at layby to pick up weeds that glyphosate has trouble with and to help prevent development of resistant weeds.

4. Applying an in-furrow insecticide at planting will help with early season thrips and slow mite development. Applying in-season miticides before problems develop will give the longest and most economical control.

5. Scouting fields twice per week and treating as soon as a problem is found will help to minimize lygus damage.

6. Insecticides should be selected based on efficacy, least disruptive and re-entry interval (REI).

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