Cotton plowdown urged to fight off pest

The Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner is urging all cotton growers to complete their plowdown activities as soon as possible in order to prevent the spread of the pink bollworm.

As part of the county's plowdown requirements, growers must use a power-driven shredder that reduces stalks down to particle size.

Following that, growers must till their land so that all stubs are loose from the soil around the roots and no re-growth occurs.

Many growers may opt for a conventional plowdown tillage, which entails discing all roots, plants, stubs, shredded debris and trash as well as soils around the roots and mixing them in thoroughly with the surface soil.

Others may opt for reduced tillage and will not need to incorporate all the plant material. However, they must submit a notification 10 days prior to tillage to the agricultural commissioner's office.

Once plowdown is completed, all other cotton that is on the ground must be destroyed.

For fields south of Shields Avenue, plowdown must be completed by Dec. 20 while those north of Shields Ave. must be finished by Dec. 31.

If plowdown is not complete or re-growth does occur during the host-free period in 2012, growers and landowners may be violated for a base fine of $500 plus $5 for every acre not in compliance.

Repeat violations come with a base fine of $1,000 and $10 per acre not in compliance.

In California, the pink bollworm overwinters as a late stage larva in trash, at the base of cotton stalks, in soil cracks, and rarely, in seeds in the unopened boll. The adult is a small, thin, gray moth with fringed wings.

For the 2011 growing season, there were no native pink bollworm moths captured in Fresno County for 140,645 acres of cotton.