The recent rains were a welcome relief for many parts of our state, but we are still in a serious drought with our reservoirs and snowpack at historical low levels. Ensuring adequate water for crops will be a challenge this year.
In general, perennial crops, such as orchards and vineyards, cannot survive extended periods without irrigation. However, alfalfa is more resilient because it can go into a drought-induced dormancy over the summertime, at least for one year. The tradeoff is that without water there will be little yield, but research has shown that the stand will persist on most soil types and yield will recover the next year once water is applied to the field again.
In most years hay growers...
- Author: Daniel H Putnam
For those of you who have followed the controversy about the export of ‘virtual water' in the form of hay exported to other countries – there is a recent article posted in January on the National Geographic Website: “Exporting the Colorado River to Asia, through hay”
Photo: Water conveyed from the Colorado River to the Imperial Valley. Alfalfa hay as well as a plethora of winter vegetables in rotation with alfalfa are grown there. (Mark Henle, National Geographic, photo)
This article follows up on Robert Glennon's October 2012 piece in the...
- Author: Carol A Frate
If you read national magazines covering hay and forage topics you may have seen some articles discussing the use of fungicides in alfalfa hay production to control leaf diseases.
Until recently, almost all fungicides registered for alfalfa hay were for seed treatments. It used to be the value of alfalfa didn’t justify the cost of applying foliar fungicides, but that has changed! In the past few years Headline, Quadris and Pristine have been registered in California for use on alfalfa hay. I conducted trials with these fungicides for efficacy against Sclerotinia stem and crown rot (“white mold”) but at a time of the year when foliar diseases are not widespread and, even if present, are minor compared to frost...
If trends continue as per current predictions, the continued drought in California will have serious impacts to forage production in 2014, affecting the availability and price of animal feed.
It’s like an 800-pound gorilla in the room, worrying everyone including growers, suppliers, livestock operators and consumers alike. According to the Western Regional Climate Center, October-December of 2013 was the driest on record in California. Other western states are also experiencing drought to varying degrees (note the U.S. Drought monitor map for the west below). Current predictions are for zero to slight chances of rainfall for the rest of January for most of California.
Figure 1. ...
- Author: Peter B Goodell
Early reports are coming in from PCAs that Blue Alfalfa Aphid (BAA), as well as other common aphids, are already making their appearance in alfalfa.
In 2013, there were widespread but localized outbreaks throughout southern and central California including locations in the Imperial, Palo Verde, Antelope, and San Joaquin Valleys. Within the San Joaquin Valley, western Kern and southwestern Merced County were most severely affected.
This earlier than normal aphid appearance has come as a surprise as many alfalfa fields are not normally being scouted during January. The attached photos indicate the severity of the build-up on seedling alfalfa. Reports from Merced and Kern Counties indicate early and high...