The weather was very cooperative this week and a lot of forages were cut, and field conditions were right to either get fields ready to plant or start to get seeds in the ground.
In the interest of alfalfa growers, we have been paying close attention to the alfalfa weevil larvae and their development. The weevil larvae are forming cocoons and pupating. Typically, we only experience a single generation of alfalfa weevil per season, however, given the early development and continuation of above average temperature, there is the chance of seeing a fairly substantial 2nd generation. This is problematic for a few reasons. First off, if we continue to see hot and dry conditions, that in itself will stunt regrowth on cut alfalfa. Additional feeding by young 2nd gen weevil larvae on stressed alfalfa regrowth can either severely delay 2nd cutting or if the infestation is significant enough, total loss of 2nd cutting. Typically, by this point in the year, we begin to move on from alfalfa weevil scouting and turn our attention to the Potato Leaf Hopper, however, this year we may be dealing with both at the same time.
We are not yet scouting any corn or soybeans; however, we expect that we will begin to see more of those acres planted and have relatively rapid germination due to increasing soil temperatures. A few timely rains can help to push these crops germination as well. Soil temperature and GDD Accumulation
As we move into warmer temperatures, it would be best to remove row covers from field planted crops in the interest of pollination and reducing heat stress. In crops that do not need pollinated such as cole crops, the row cover can serve as an insect barrier and prevent early infestation from the Imported Cabbageworm. Crops such as summer squash, cucumbers and tomatoes
all need to be uncovered sooner than later to avoid poor pollination and subsequently, poor fruit set.
Hot weather can also be problematic when transplanting into black plastic. The black plastic can become very hot and planting a young, tender transplant into the plastic on a hot, sunny day can cause a significant amount of stress, burns on the leaves and stems and in some cases, death of the transplant. Try to plant in the evenings, as temperatures cool down or on cloudy, cooler days.
In the last week we have seen an explosion of flea beetle in cole crops, and the Colorado potato beetles have begun to make their way into potato plantings. Frequent scouting and monitoring of these insect pests is extremely important. Large populations on young plants can stunt their growth and reduce yields. Conditions have been ideal for rapid population increases, hence the need for frequent scouting. An interesting insect problem we observed was a planting of cole crops where the roots of some plants were being destroyed by ants. In most cases, as you turn on your irrigation lines under plastic, it will drive the ants elsewhere.
Generally speaking, disease pressure has been very low in vegetable crops to this point. We have observed some early blight in a tomato high tunnel, as well as blossom end rot in high tunnel tomatoes.
Small Fruit and Orchards
Apples and peaches are both reaching fruit development. There was significant growth and change in the size of the fruit over the past week. Out of all of
the orchard traps that we have out, we caught 1 OFM and 1 CM. We began to find aphids in apple orchards. The feeding was evident by curling leaves and shoots.
Blueberries are in petal fall and are setting fruit. Raspberries are getting ready to bloom and overall seem to be coming along just fine.
Strawberry varieties that were early to bloom, and left uncovered, likely suffered heavy bloom loss due to the freezing temperatures that we experienced. Some early blooming varieties had very few, if any, healthy looking blooms. Many plants have put on new blooms, which are very easy to distinguish from the frosted blooms. Early varieties of plasticulutre strawberries that were covered and protected from the cold are setting fruit and beginning to ripen and may even be in harvest. We are not finding any thrips at this time. Unfortunately, we are finding a lot of slugs in strawberry plants and on the berries.
Currently, grapes are now past the bud burst stage, as most are at the 4-8” shoot stage. We are beginning to see where grape buds that had been damaged due to freezing temperatures are putting out secondary buds and shoot growth, which is very promising.