- Author: Lennis Arriaga
- Author: Richard Smith
- Author: Michael Cahn
During the past two years acreage of season-long drip in lettuce has increased rapidly in the Salinas and adjacent valleys. Using drip for the entire crop cycle allows growers to germinate seeded crops with buried tape (Photo 1), and eliminates labor needed for installing and removing sprinklers. The rapid expansion of this irrigation practice is due to 1) reliable thin-walled single-use drip tape which assures high application uniformity for less cost than thick walled tape; 2) Better injection equipment that can uniformly place drip tape 2-3 inches below the soil surface allowing cultivation without damaging the tape (Photo 2), and 3) development of tape removal equipment that saves labor and efficiently bundles the tape for recycling (Photo 3). The use of drip for germinating lettuce often can improve the uniformity of stands and save water by eliminating common problems associated with using sprinklers such as emergence patterns caused by wind and crusting of the soil surface. Drip germination works best on light to medium textured soil types such as sandy loams, gravelly sandy loams, loams, and silt loams (e.g. along the river and on the eastside of the Salinas Valley).
Unlike sprinklers which infiltrate water at the soil surface, water applied by buried drip wicks upward keeping herbicides and fertilizers sprayed on the bed tops close to the soil surface. The upward movement of moisture from buried drip tape and subsequent evaporation of water from the bed top yields a net accumulation of salts (including nitrate) near the soil surface (Photo 4). This upward movement of applied materials benefits the preemergent herbicide, Kerb, which is often pushed too deep in the soil by sprinkler applied water at germination. The amount of wetting of the soil surface provided by drip germination is sufficient to set Kerb and keep it in the zone where weed seeds germinate which improves its effectiveness (for more information on this subject go to: https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=30847).
With buried drip, surface-applied fertilizers used as anticrustants or for thinning by automated thinners are not moved deep enough into the soil to be taken up by the lettuce crop during the early season. In one evaluation, we observed that the fertilizers were strongly stratified in the top inch of soil. Soil samples of the top six inches of soil by one-inch increments indicate that the nitrate levels in the top inch of soil are commonly higher than the deeper in the profile due to the upward movement of salts by evaporation mentioned above (Table 1). However, following the application of 20 gallons of 28-0-0-5 for thinning, the levels of mineral nitrogen (ammonium-N and nitrate-N) became extremely high (> 200 ppm NO3-N) and did not decline for the two weeks of the evaluation. In another field evaluation in which nitrogen fertilizer was applied to the soil surface (as an anticrustant (5-20-0) and for thinning (14-0-0-5)) the nitrogen remained in the upper two inches of soil for more than 5 weeks. This nitrogen just below the surface would be unavailable for crop growth because the soil is dry and root growth is minimal.
Table 1. Total mineral nitrogen (ammonium-N + nitrate-N) in the top 6 inches of soil. May 22 – prior to thinning; three subsequent sampling dates following application of 28-0-0-5 fertilizer by an autothinner
Since growers must report the total nitrogen applied to vegetables to the Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), the nitrogen remaining on the soil surface creates a problem. For instance, a typical application of 20 gallons of 14-0-0-5 contains 29 lbs of nitrogen/acre. This nitrogen is reported to the RWQCB but does not necessarily provide nitrogen for crop growth. More nitrogen would need to be added to keep up with the N demand of the crop. It would be advantageous to use materials in the autothinners that contain no or low amounts of nitrogen.
High levels of nitrogen on the surface also creates a challenge for collecting an accurate soil sample for determining plant-available nitrogen using the nitrate quick test or laboratory analysis. Photo 5 shows the results of three measurements: 1) high levels of nitrate-nitrogen found in the top 2 inches of soil (test strip on the left); 2) moderate amount of nitrate-nitrogen found in the 2 to12 inch layer (top 2 inches scraped off, test strip in the middle); and 3) high levels of nitrate-nitrogen found in the top 12 inches of soil (top 2-inches of soil is not scraped away, test strip on the right). We have always recommended scraping the dry surface soil away before collecting a soil core (see https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=4406), however, the extremely high amounts of nitrate-nitrogen in the top 2 inches of drip irrigated fields that are autothinned with a nitrogen fertilizer makes this practices particularly critical in order to not over estimate the amount of plant-available nitrogen in the soil when making critical fertilizer application decisions.
- Season-long use of buried drip keeps herbicides and soil applied fertilizers (from anti-crustants and automated thinners) close to the surface due to the water wicking upward.
- Surface applied fertilizers remain in the top 2 inches of soil and are not plant available for much of the season. Ideally, a zero or low nitrogen containing thinning chemical would avoid this issue.
- It is important to scrape away the top two inches of soil when collecting samples for nitrate testing in order to not over estimate the amount of plant-available nitrogen when making fertilizer application decisions.
- Author: Alejandro Del Pozo-Valdivia
Last year, this pest was present in large numbers during August and September. The idea is to have additional data from the pheromone traps to inform the IPM decision making process. Below is a table showing the number of moths per day and per trap since February.
Table 1. Male diamondback moth captures by pheromone traps across the Salinas Valley. There are two type of traps deployed in the fields. We have the cardboard traps labeled as 'Regular' and also the automated traps labeled as 'Automated' and shown in Fig. 1.
Fig. 1. Automated trap (provided by AgCeleration and manufactured by TrapView) in a broccoli field. This type of trap has four cameras on top of the sticky liner. Cameras will take daily pictures. Pictures are analyzed to recognize the adult of diamondback moth. This trap uses a cellular connection to transmit the pictures daily to a centralized computer. The computer will use machine learning to recognize and count new moths getting stuck onto the liner.
To put these captures on a time perspective, the below time series graph shows the fluctuation of the diamondback moth captures since we set up the traps. The below graph does not include the data from the automated traps. Capture data is broken into a series labeled 'Castroville' (dotted line) indicating the moth captures from that specific location, and a second series labeled 'Other' (solid line) where the average captures among the other locations are presented.
If you are interested in learning more about this monitoring program, please contact Alejandro Del-Pozo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 831-759-7359.
- Author: Richard Smith
Weed control in lettuce and other crops is a key issue this time of year. Purslane is particularly problematic and is adapted to warm conditions and can grow very rapidly especially during July and August. At times growers and PCA's are disappointed with the efficacy of Kerb on this weed. Kerb is effective in controlling purslane but it is readily leached and, if applied at planting, it can be moved below the zone of germinating weed seeds with the germination water. For instance, 6-8 hours of sprinkler water (1.5 to 2.0 inches) are commonly applied in the first germination water which can move the Kerb below the upper 0.5 inch of soil which is the zone where the weed seeds germinate; the movement of Kerb with the germination water is particularly problematic on sandy soils. Prefar does not leach and thus provides most of the purslane control when the two materials are tank mixed (Figure 1). However, Prefar does not control shepherd's purse or nightshades which can also be problematic in lettuce fields. Therefore, it would be advantageous to optimize the efficacy of Kerb to maximize the control of purslane as well as other weeds.
In the desert, the use of delayed applications of Kerb has been used for many years. Due to the large amounts of water that are applied in their hot conditions, Kerb is applied in the 2nd or 3rd germination water, approximately 3-5 days following the first germination water, just prior to the emergence of the lettuce seedlings. This technique can also be utilized in the Salinas Valley. We have looked at this technique over the years and have found it to improve the efficacy of Kerb (Figure 2). These data illustrate the loss of control of purslane by Kerb when applied before the 1st germination water, as well as the improvement in efficacy that results when applied following the 1st germination water. It also illustrates the role that Prefar plays in the control of purslane when the efficacy of Kerb is lost by leaching. It should be mentioned that the label states that the maximum amount of Kerb that can be applied through the sprinklers is 2.5 pints/A and the amount used in this trial was for experimental purposes only. Clearly there is benefit from applying the Kerb later in the 2nd or 3rd germination water, however, we observed that applying the Kerb at the end of the 1st germination water also provided improved efficacy of Kerb. Clearly, anything that helps to keep the Kerb in the top 0.5 inch of soil improves its efficacy.
Here are some details that need to be considered regarding the application of Kerb later in the germination phase of the crop: There is a need to use an injection pump and tank. We have typically used a tank with a circulating mechanism to keep the Kerb in suspension while the injection was occurring. The material needs to be injected into the mainline in a location where proper mixing can occur before it begins to flow down the laterals. The most difficult issue that growers face is the compatibility of the injection with surrounding crops. This is probably the greatest challenge and must be carefully thought through before attempting an application.
Another idea that we explored last year was the use of an additive to help retain the Kerb in the upper portion of the soil where it can be most active. However, we did not see improved efficacy in two 2018 trials (data not shown).
Many growers now are now using drip irrigation to germinate lettuce. Grower may apply the same amount of water with drip germination as with sprinklers, but the movement of the water is different which affects a surface applied material differently. With this method of germination, there are a couple of interesting dynamics that occur: 1) Kerb is not pushed too deep by this germination method and effectively reduces weed populations whether injected into the germ water (currently not a registered method of application) or sprayed on the soil surface and activated by the drip germination water (Table 1); and 2) fewer weeds emerge with drip germination than with sprinklers, regardless of the herbicide program.
Table 1. Effect of Kerb application (at 3 pints/A) method (surface applied, drip injected or untreated) and irrigation method (surface tape, buried tape or sprinkler) on weed densities, lettuce stand and visual injury.
- Author: Cheryl Reynolds
Summer is here, and we're halfway through 2019 already! Why not get jump on finishing up your continuing education units by taking online courses from the UC Statewide IPM Program (UC IPM). If you are a license or certificate holder from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), and your last name begins with the letters M through Z, you should be receiving your renewal packet in August.
We're excited to announce some changes.
- In January, we switched all of our online courses to a new learning system located at https://campus.extension.org/. This new system has extensive technical support, is easier to navigate, and is more stable than the old one. Note that the extension platform offers courses from all across the country, including several providers from California. Look for the UC IPM logo to be sure you are taking one of our courses.
- We are pleased to announce that a brand-new online course on the Fuller rose beetle was added to our citrus integrated pest management IPM series. Dr. Beth Grafton-Cardwell, a citrus IPM specialist and research entomologist, and Dr. Joseph Morse, emeritus professor of entomology, developed the course. The course describes the life cycle, natural enemies, and management of Fuller rose beetle and explains why it is important for countries that export citrus. Fuller Rose Beetle has been approved by (DPR) for 1 hour of credit in the Other category and by Certified Crop Advisor (CCA) for 0.5 hour of IPM credit.
- Many of our courses are now credited not only by DPR for continuing education hours, but also by the California Structural Pest Control Board (SPCB), Certified Crop Advisor (CCA), Western Chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture (WCISA), and also by Arizona Department of Agriculture.
DPR encourages license and certificate holders to avoid the end-of-the-year rush and submit renewal applications by November 1 to ensure license renewal by January 1, 2020. Submitting your renewal early avoids late fees and gives you time to address any issues that may arise such as not having enough hours to successfully renew.
Another incentive to get a jump on completing your needed continuing education units (CEUs) with UC IPM's online courses is that we are offering an early-bird price for four of our most wanted courses until November 1st.
- Proper Pesticide Use to Avoid Illegal Residues (2 hours Laws and Regulations; early bird price $40, full price $80)
- Proper Selection, Use, and Removal of Personal Protective Equipment (1.5 hours Laws and Regulations; early bird price $30, full price $60)
- Pesticide Resistance (2 hours Other; early bird price $20, full price $40)
- Pesticide Application Equipment and Calibration (1.5 hours Other; early bird price $15, full price $30)