Wright said growers still need to take into account that the best conditions for effective defoliation come during moderate to high air temperatures, relatively low plant and soil nitrogen levels, moderate soil water levels and times when there is uniform crop development.

The first mention of the whitefly issue came from Larry Godfrey, entomologist with the University of California at Davis, who said aphids and leafhoppers have also been a problem.

Godfrey warned that the industry could see its arsenal of pesticides weakened with additional restrictions on older classes of chemistries such as organophosphates, coupled with some restrictions resulting from efforts to protect bee populations.

The good news on development of resistant varieties came mostly from Mauricio Ulloa, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service in Lubbock, Tex., and Allen Van Deynze, a professional researcher at the Seed Biotechnology Center at University of California, Davis.

Van Deynze said developments in use of cotton genetics mean that it does not take six generations to develop a new variety. A single generation can give “a pure breeding line,” thanks to breakthroughs in understanding of markers and sequencing.

Ulloa said researchers have identified 150 markers for disease resistance and he and others said PhytoGen could be within two years of releasing Fusarium resistant varieties for commercial growers.

Williams said he was “leaving this meeting proud and encouraged that we are on the cusp of a real answer and a solution to this problem.”

There was still other good news out of the meeting.

Larry Olagues, agricultural pest control supervisor for the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Pink Bollworm Program, said this was the second year when there have been no finds of the bollworm in California.

That’s the first time in the 45-year span of the program in which there have been two consecutive years of no finds.

“We’re halfway to eradication,” Olagues said, noting that four consecutive years of no bollworm finds would amount to the eradication designation.

And Pete Goodell, UC integrated pest management advisor, said a breakthrough may be near on development of a sex pheromone for use to draw lygus bugs.

Goodell said lures for pheromone-baited traps could be part of “an early warning system” that could help in proper timing of sprays for the pest.

He said “world class chemistry” is being used to develop the traps, and one of the researchers who have been a key in their development is David Hall, with the Natural Resources Institute in Greenwich University, England.

The traps are already being used for early detection in fruit orchards in England.

Now the challenge is to come up with the right blend of volatiles that will attract the female lygus, and traps are being tested successfully in alfalfa at the Kearney Ag Center in Parlier. Goodell said testing of traps will likely begin in cotton next year.

“The ability to detect the first lygus arriving in an area could improve our decision-making, timing and choice of insecticides as well as improving our understanding of regional population development,” Goodell said.


Sticky cotton


Bob and Steve; Bob Hutmacher, left, University of California Cooperative Extension specialist, and Steve Wright, a UC farm advisor for Tulare and Kings Counties.

Don and Earl: Don Cameron, left, a Fresno County cotton grower and chair of the California Cotton Alliance, and Earl Williams, president and CEO of CaliforniaCotton Growers and Ginners Associations.



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