Ask Your PCA: Can you give us a rundown of the season so far?
Dale Deshane, Supervised Control Service Inc., Bakersfield PCA
We've had such a dry spring that, really, we haven't had much problem at all. The insect pressure has been really light, and we're just now starting to see some of our traditional diseases in the vegetables.
In the nut crops, we put on some foliar sprays in the spring as a preventative, but that's about it. There's been no shothole, no blossom blight, nothing. We haven't had any severe alternaria, although I've heard that they have it farther north and to the east of us say, north of Wasco and east of the Porterville Highway.
It's all the result of our dry winter. Our annual rainfall here is 6.5 inches, and we're at half of that. When you have a wet winter followed by a wet spring, you have a lot of disease and the vegetation in the hills is an ideal habitat for insects. Well, we've had the opposite of that. There wasn't much habitat for insects this spring, so we've seen really light pressure is all. We've had some spider mites in the cotton, but no lygus. It's early for aphids, but we're seeing some black cowpea aphid in the cotton.
The vegetables are looking very good. We're already done with spring lettuce, and the onions are just starting to go down. We have seen some thrips in our late onions. Garlic is still going and we just saw some rust show up last week for the first time all season.
Potato harvest has started and will continue through mid-July. There was no late blight at all in the potatoes—which is rare—but we are treating for tuber moth. We also didn't see any late blight in the tomatoes as yet, although we're treating for powdery mildew and we did see a little bacterial speck near Shafter where they had two or three pretty hard rains in a row.
Our carrots look good. That's a year-round crop for us down here. The spring crop is coming off now and the summer crop is already in. The big problem we watch for in carrots in the summer is rolfsii disease. It's in our soils and can just rot the carrots when temperatures get hot.
The only carryover effect from last winter's freeze has been some bunching up of some vegetable crops at harvest. Some of the crops had to be replanted so they ripened all at once, rather than spread out like the processors would prefer. That hit the carrots more than anything. They had to sacrifice yield a little bit on the front end in order to get carrots into the shed on time. That's just the way it is sometimes, and they've worked through that and are now on track.
Overall, it's been a very good start to the year for us.
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