Jan 24, 2024Avoid Seed Corn Maggots in Spring Melons (2024)To contact John Palumbo go to: jpalumbo@ag.Arizona.edu
In 2023 Arizona and the lower basin states were operating under Tier 2 reductions, consistent with the Drought Contingency Plans (DCP) for Colorado River conservation in response to the drought conditions (Figure 1). Tier 2 conditions imposed a 592,000 acre-feet (kaf) reduction in Arizona’s 2.8 million acre-feet (maf) total allocation from the Colorado River. These reductions have primarily impacted the irrigation districts in central Arizona.
For 2024, the Bureaus of Reclamation (BoR) has announced in August 2023 that the river operations will follow Tier 1 DCP reductions (Figure 1). That is due to an increase in the water levels in Lake Mead in the past year with an excellent snowpack last winter and above average runoff in 2023. That increase in water level at Hoover Dam in Lake Mead is primarily a function of an excellent snowpack and higher rainfall in the Colorado River basin in 2023. Significant conservation efforts have been employed as well.
Figure 1. 2024 Tier 1 Shortage for the Colorado River operations. Source:
Arizona Department of Water Resources.
With agriculture responsible for 70% of the diversions on the Colorado River, tracking the snowpack is an important exercise for forecasting and managing the precious water resources in this region and this watershed for sure.
The pressures on the Colorado River system because of the drought that has been impacting the entire basin and region for 23 years have slackened briefly due to the wet winter in 2023 with a good snowpack in the mountains, good rainfall throughout the basin, good flows into the river, and conservation.
The current water level at Lake Mead on Hoover Dam is 1,068.25 ft. above sea level on 3 January 2024. That level is 160.75 ft below full pool of 1,229.00 ft. (Figure 2).
The current snowpack in the Colorado River Basin is at 74% of average and below levels of this time last year. However, hydrological records indicate that most of the snowpack in this basin accumulates between February and April.
So, it is worth watching the snowpack accumulation and it is always good to pray for more snow in mountains to the north for those of us working and living in this desert with a heavy dependence on this water. However, while monitoring the snowpack gives us a capacity to project, none of that really counts until there is water in the river and in the reservoirs, like money in the bank.
As the lettuce plants start to grow and get bigger in the field, you might start seeing the symptoms of bacterial soft rot. Though it rarely takes down the whole field, the symptom are not so pleasant. Bacterial soft rot in lettuce can occur in the field as well as post harvest.
It is caused by several types of bacteria, but primarily subspecies and pathovars of Erwinia caro-tovora and E. chrysanthemi. Other bacterial species that cause soft rot include Pseudomonas cichorii, P. marginalis, and P. viridiflava. They have a wide host range host range and includes genera from nearly all plant families
In lettuce fields, the symptoms are observed close to the harvest time. The tissue, mostly around inside the head of head lettuce softens and becomes mushy or watery. Slimy masses of bacteria and cellular debris frequently ooze out from cracks in the tissues. Decaying tissue, which may be opaque, white, cream-colored, gray, brown, or black frequently gives off a characteristically putrid odor. The odor is caused by secondary invading bacteria that are growing in the decomposing tissues.
The bacteria overwinter in infected fleshy tissues in storage, in the field, garden or greenhouse, in the soil (especially in the rhizosphere around the roots of many plants), and on contaminated tools, equipment, containers, and in certain insects. The bacteria enter primarily through wounds made during planting, cultivating, harvesting, grading, and packing and through freezing injuries, insect and hail wounds, growth cracks, and sunscald. They may also follow other disease-producing organisms. Uninjured tissues may become infected when the humidity approaches 100 percent or when free moisture is present. Rains, poorly drained or waterlogged soils, and warm temperatures favor infection in the field, as does high humidity in storage or transit.
The bacteria multiply rapidly by dividing in half every 20 to 60 minutes under ideal conditions at temperatures between 65° and 95° (18° and 35°C). Minimum temperatures for development is between 35° and 46°F (2° and 6°C); and maximum between 95° and 105°F (35° and 41°C.
The bacteria are spread by direct contact, hands, tools and farm machinery, insects, running or splashing water, contaminated, water in washing vats, clothing, and decayed bits of tissue.
Promptly and carefully destroy infected plants. Maintain well aerated field, avoid close planting and overhead irrigation.
To minimize post harvest losses, avoid mechanical injusry after harvest, packing and shipping. Do not pack produce when wet. Store and ship produce at temperatures near 4°C (39°F).
In the preceding issue of UA Veg IPM Updates, the article below was published with an incorrect link to the video mentioned. For those interested in the video, which contains trial results and insightful videos of the technologies in action, the article has been updated with the correct link and is being reposted.
A couple years ago, we conducted evaluations of various “new” technologies for cultivating weeds in cotton as compared to conventional methods. The new technologies included 1) a camera-guided side-shift hitch and 2) finger weeders, an in-row weeding tool (Fig. 1). Camera-guidance of the maneuverable hitch allows cultivating tools to be positioned close to the seed row. In the study, the uncultivated band was 3.5" for the camera-guided system, and 6” for the conventional cultivator. The aim of evaluating these technologies was to determine their efficacy in controlling herbicide resistant weeds. Trials conducted over 3 years showed that use of camera-guidance improved weed control by more than 30% and finger weeders removed about 45% of the in-row weeds. Overall weed control using the two technologies together was roughly > 90% for broadleaf weeds and about 85% for all weeds species.
Studies conducted by Texas A&M over two years showed similar results (Dotray et. al, 2021).
It is logical to think that similar type results would be realized in vegetable crops such as broccoli and cauliflower, plants that also have fairly long plant stems at the seedling stage of growth. A better than 40% reduction of in-row weeds would significantly lower hand weeding requirements. If you are interested in trying these technologies in vegetable or other crops on your farm, please contact me. We still have the equipment and I’d be happy to work with you.
A presentation given on the trial results and videos of the equipment used operating can be found by clicking here or on image below.
Dotray, P.A., Keeling, J.W., & Russell, K.R. 2021. Precision cultivation with finger weeder systems. Project No. 20-190 Final Report. Cary, N.C: Cotton Inc.
Project partially funded and supported by Arizona Cotton Growers Association, Cotton Inc., KULT-Kress, LLC and Keithly-Williams Fabrication. We thank them for their support.
Fig. 1. Technologies for precision cultivation and in-row weeding
used in efficacy trials included a a) a camera-guided side-shift hitch
attached to a cultivator and b) in-row weeding tools (finger weeders).
Fig. 2. Click on image above to watch presentation on precision cultivation and in-row weeding technologies.
There are many different types of pests that affect crops grown in Arizona. The three types of pests most often cited as the source of most problems are insects, diseases and weeds. These are the same types of pests that are cited as causing the major agricultural pest problems across the U.S. and worldwide. Graphs 1-3 illustrate, however, that the relative importance of these types of pest problems differ in Arizona from the rest of the U.S. and worldwide. In terms of pesticide use, worldwide herbicides accounted for 36% of total usage, insecticides 25%, and fungicides 10% and other 29% (nematicides, rodenticides, fumigants, bird, fish and aquatic pests). In the U.S., herbicides accounted for 44%, insecticides 10%, fungicides 6%, and other 40% of pesticide use. In Arizona, however, insecticides accounted for 58%, herbicides 17% and fungicides 12%. This is only an indirect measure of the relative importance of these three areas of pest management and may be heavily influenced by the amount of pesticides used. For instance, it is common to spray for insects five or more times per season while it is uncommon to spray for weeds more than twice. None the less, these graphs illustrate that weeds are the predominant pest problem in agricultural areas across the U.S. and worldwide.
We wanted to share the information above obtained from the PCA Study Guide Section VI prepared by our "amigo" Barry Tickes who is teaching the Applied Weed Science Class at the University of Arizona this semester.