May 5, 2021Summer Sanitation Is Important as Ever
To contact John Palumbo go to: jpalumbo@ag.Arizona.edu
The off-target movement of Dicamba and 2,4-D that was applied to resistant cotton and soybeans in the Midwest and south has been in the news for the last few years. It has exploded recently with the cancellation of these uses by a Federal court and the EPA. There have
not been serious problems with these herbicides here in Arizona. The focus of this article is to explain why not.
Much of the cotton, corn and soybeans grown in the U.S. was Glyphosate resistant for several years. The number of Glyphosate resistant weeds have increased every year and new concerns about the effect of Glyphosate on human health and environmental safety have arisen. In response to this problem, new varieties of cotton, corn and soybeans have been developed that are resistant to a couple of old but highly effective herbicides, Dicamba and 2,4-D. These herbicides have high vapor pressures and can volatilize after application. They change from a liquid or solid to a gas after application and can move, sometimes long distances, in the air. Any herbicide can drift onto sensitive crops during application and cause injury. This is different than volatilization. New formulations of 2,4-D and Dicamba have been developed, however, that have significantly lower volatility. Studies have shown that while the potential is lower that it still can occur. Volatilization of both Dicamba and 2,4-D have caused widespread problems to field crops, trees, parks, school yards, landscapes… to cause “Silent Spring “type conditions in the Midwest and south. Volatility problems occasionally occur but widespread and serious problems have not been encountered in Arizona.
The extreme conditions that exist during the summer in the low deserts of Arizona all contribute to herbicide volatility. High temperature, low humidity and the occurrence of temperature inversions have always made it difficult to use volatile herbicides here. Growers and Pest Control Advisers have learned to be cautious when using these products. They are rarely used after daytime temperatures go much above 90 degrees.
Acreage and Crop Diversity
Crops are grown in Arizona on a smaller scale and more intensively than they are in the Midwest and south. This is especially true in the southwestern counties. The acreage of cotton in 2019, for instance, was 173,000 acres in Arizona,4,350,000 in Texas,1,305,000 in Georgia,550,000 in Oklahoma and 497,000 in Alabama. This smaller scale allows Arizona growers to practice more careful management. Sprayers are cleaned more carefully or dedicated to spraying only volatile products. Fields and surrounding area are checked more frequently. In high acreage states, tens of thousands of acres can be treated at the same time with the same products. The amount of herbicide in the environment at those times is very high. In Arizona not only are crops grown on a smaller scale, but they are more diversified. It is not uncommon to see 3 ,4 or more different crops being grown at the same time on a 20 acre block. When fields are sprayed it is done very carefully.
Newer formulations and Varieties
New formulations of both Dicamba and 2,4-D have been developed that are much less volatile than the old formulations. Although some of these are promoted as non-volatile, they can still move. Some studies have shown that they are 30 to 50% more stable. It will be variable and dependent on many factors. It is important to choose those cotton varieties that have been developed to tolerate Dicamba or 2,4-D. According to Randy Norton, U of Az. Cotton Specialist, upwards of 60% of the cotton varieties being grown in Arizona this year are Dicamba resistant. Randy states that these varieties were selected for their yield and lint quality more so than their resistance to Dicamba.
Last year we had a lot of watermelon fields infected with Fusarium from Winterhaven to Yuma, Wellton, and Mohawk Valley. Rain, and overwatering of fields when plants set fruits might have contributed to the disease development.
Fusarium wilt of watermelon, caused by Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. niveum, is one of the oldest described Fusarium wilt diseases and the most economically important disease of watermelon worldwide. It occurs on every continent except Antarctica and new races of the pathogen continue to impact production in many areas around the world. Long-term survival of the pathogen in the soil and the evolution of new races make management of Fusarium wilt difficult.
Symptoms of Fusarium can sometimes be confused with water deficiency, even though there is plenty of water in the field. In Yuma valley we have seen fusarium problem in some overwatered fields.
Initial symptoms often include a dull, gray green appearance of leaves that precedes a loss of turgor pressure and wilting. Wilting is followed by a yellowing of the leaves and finally necrosis. The wilting generally starts with the older leaves and progresses to the younger foliage. Under conditions of high inoculum density or a very susceptible host, the entire plant may wilt and die within a short time. Affected plants that do not die are often stunted and have considerably reduced yields. Under high inoculum pressure, seedlings may damp off as they emerge from the soil.
Initial infection of seedlings usually occurs from chlamydospores (resting structure) that have overwintered in the soil. Chlamydospores germinate and produce infection hyphae that penetrate the root cortex, often where the lateral roots emerge. Infection may be enhanced by wounds or damage to the roots. The fungus colonizes the root cortex and soon invades the xylem tissue, where it produces more mycelia and microconidia. Consequently, the fungus becomes systemic and often can be isolated from tissue well away from the roots. The vascular damage we see in the roots is the defense mechanism of the plant to impede the movement of pathogen.
Disease management include planting clean seeds/transplants, use of resistant cultivars, crop rotation, soil fumigation, soil solarization, grafting, biological control. An integrated approach utilizing two or more methods is required for successful disease management.
The autonomous agricultural robot industry is an incredibly fast-moving space. Startups, established companies and academic researchers are continuously putting forth new ideas and products. It’s hard to keep up with. In November of 2020, Future Farming (Misset Publisher, BV, Doetinchem, Netherlands) published a Field Robots Catalogue that provides a comprehensive overview of the state of autonomous ag robots. The article provides brief summaries of 35 autonomous ag robots that are currently commercially available. Along with a brief paragraph about what each robot does, the article presents information about how many robots from a particular manufacturer are actively being used, the cost of the machine, and links to a video of the device in action. Most of the robots are for weed management in vegetable crops. Kill mechanisms range from spot spraying to mechanical weed removal to electrocution. Several of the robots featured are applicable and relevant to Arizona vegetable production, and some are currently operating in the U.S. If you’re interested in ag robots and want to get up to date, this article is an excellent resource and quick read. The article can be found at the link provided below.
Title: Future Farming Field Robots Catalogue
Publisher: Misset Publisher, BV, Doetinchem, Netherlands.
The Yuma County Leaf Wetness Network remains in place for the 2018/19 vegetable season. Growers and PCAs may access information generated by the network by entering the following internet address: http://22.214.171.124:460
Upon entering the address above, you will be transferred to internet page that provides a series of tabs at the top of the page. Simply click on the tabs to access the information of interest.
Results of pheromone and sticky trap catches can be viewed HERE.
Results of pheromone and sticky trap catches can be viewed HERE.
Corn earworm: CEW moth activity increased a bit in the past 2 weeks but remains well below average for late spring.
Beet armyworm: Moth counts increased slightly, but remain very low consistent with seasonal temperatures, and below average for this point in the season.
Cabbage looper: Significant increase in activity in Dome Valley, Gila Valley and Tacna, but moth counts remain unusually low for this time of year, as they have all season.
Whitefly: No adult movement recorded across all locations and overall low numbers consistent with temperatures.
Thrips: Thrips adult movement beginning to pick up considerably, particularly in Yuma and Dome Valleys. Movement is below average for late March.
Aphids: Seasonal aphid counts down considerably compared with the Feb and Jan. Counts highest in Bard and Gila Valley. Below average movement for this time of year. Majority of species found on traps were green peach aphid.
Leafminers: Adult activity up slightly in some locations, but well below average for late season.