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December 13, 2006

UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program releases new year-round guidance for alfalfa growers

Farmers who are planting alfalfa hay next fall are in good stead for the 2007 growing season.

   Adult Egyptian alfalfa weevil

Egyptian alfalfa weevils attack early in the growing season.
Photo by Jack Kelly Clark

The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) has released a new alfalfa year-round IPM program on its Web site. The year-round IPM programs identify major activities growers need to do at each crop growing stage to implement a comprehensive IPM program. Under “How to Manage Pests,” click on agriculture and floriculture and choose your crop.

Currently, programs are available for alfalfa, almonds, cotton, grapes, nectarines, peaches, plums, and prunes. Avocados and tomatoes will be available by early 2007, in time for the next growing season.

Based on UC research and expertise, the year-round IPM programs provide annual checklists that guide farmers through a year of monitoring pests, making management decisions, and planning for the following season. The programs also outline specific IPM practices that reduce water quality risks and other environmental problems. Problem pesticides are identified through the UC IPM WaterTox database that rates available options according to their potential to damage water quality.

The California Natural Resources Conservation Service recently announced a $125 per acre incentive under its Environmental Quality Incentives Program for growers implementing UC year-round IPM programs and limiting the use of organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides.

Pest Control Advisor (PCA) Nick Groenenberg from Hanford recently checked out the alfalfa year-round program and found it to be a comprehensive tool.

A PCA for more than 30 years, he independently contracts with 10 growers covering 10,000 acres of alfalfa in Hanford and Stratford. “This year-round information goes a long way in providing information about what growers have to do. Weed identification is helpful. A lot of insect controls are listed such as cultural, biological, and chemical. You have to tweak some of the information to suit your own particular pest problem, but overall the information is extremely helpful.

“UC IPM lays it out nicely, and they keep it updated with a lot of crops. There’s some good information on managing hay and the cutting schedule to keep a strong stand. They covered that well. The WaterTox data gives good information on reusing tailwater, too. It’s all good information that growers need to know.”

The year-round program provides practical tools for growers and PCAs such as detailed procedures for determining the need for treatments for aphids, caterpillars, weevils, and weeds, including monitoring procedures, record-keeping forms, treatment thresholds, and photos of descriptions of important pests and natural enemies.

The alfalfa year-round program links to an updated pest management guideline that details how to carry out recommended practices. The guideline has been updated with a new illustrated section on alfalfa diseases and their management, ratings of impacts of specific pesticides on natural enemies, and information on transgenic, herbicide-tolerant alfalfa varieties and chemical class numbers to help manage pesticide resistance.

Look for avocado and tomato year-round IPM programs in the near future.


High-resolution image (1.7MB) "Adult alfalfa weevil." Photo credit: Courtesy of UC Statewide IPM Program. Photos are for use with this release only. All other uses see Legal Notices.

The California Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)


Stephanie Klunk, Communications Specialist
UC Statewide IPM Program
(530) 754-6724

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