September 3, 2013

Some Crops Are Coming In, After
A Very Tough Pest Year

Vern Crawford, a Kern County PC

Vern Crawford, a long time pest control advisor with Wilbur-Ellis (Shafter branch) spoke to California Ag Today about the goings on in Kern County and elsewhere.

“The Upland, Acala type cotton will soon be defoliated. Pima cotton fields are full bloom but we are past any new bolls being made from the flowering branches. Defoliation for Pima will begin in about a month,” Crawford said.

It’s full-on harvest of the earlier pistachios, and Kern County almonds are about 2/3 harvested. All the soft shells are at the huller and growers are now picking the hard shells.

“Dried black-eyed beans are doing well. Traditionally, it’s good to have them on the ground by October, as growers do not want to get caught with cold rain and fog,” noted Crawford.  “If that happens, the bean grower is trapped and the crop will need to go to cattle feed.”

“And what a year for alfalfa growers,” said Crawford. “In 2012 we hardly had to spray for anything, except for the alfalfa weevils at the early cutting.”

In 2013, you name the bug and it was a problem. “We had the Blue Alfalfa Aphid that we could not get under control with the usual insecticides. We think it’s a new biotype. We had some significant yield losses especially on the first and second cuttings, which are the high dollar cuttings,” said Crawford. “It was very bad in Imperial County, the Colorado River area, and Kern County.”

“We are looking for a Section 18 for Carbine from FMC, for next year’s hay season to control the Blue Alfalfa Aphid,” noted Crawford.

“Then we had the western yellow-striped armyworm for two cuttings, and now we are getting the alfalfa caterpillar, the pea aphid, along with the cow pea aphid. So we have had a lot of pressure on nearly every cutting this season,” Crawford said.

And almond growers saw enormous mite pressure. “Some growers sprayed four times, which cost the growers as much as $400 per acre. Normally it would cost under $100 per acre with Agri-Mek or other products, which did not seem to work too well this season,” he said.

“Then, inventory for some of the materials was exhausted about mid-season,” said Crawford. “Some growers turned to the old standby product, Omite, and got great results.

“In some fields, which were simply out of control, we flew on some dusting sulfur. On those 100 degree days, the sulfur fumed within the canopy and took care of the mites,” Crawford said.

Last year's costs were among the cheapest in years for almond growers because of low pest pressure. However, this year could have been the most expensive year; Crawford said some growers were hit by the leaf-footed plant bug and stinkbug. “And everyone was worried about Navel Orangeworm (NOW) after getting hit hard last season. This year, some growers came through with three applications for NOW,” he said.

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