Tuesday, March 11, 2008

March...a time for vigilance

Well, I guess now there's no arguing that Spring is here.

With daytime temps hitting the mid 70's, and lows in the high 30's, the trees and flowers have started blooming across the countryside. The air is thick with the smell of all the flowers, and even those dormant old vines are starting to look as if they may bust forth from their winter sleep very soon. Insects have reawakened, and have begun to buzz about the various nectar rich flowers.

Now I may seem a bit alarmist, but....this IS the time of year that we've seen the first attempted incursions of some nasty pests into our area, and the glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS) is the primary concern. The "normal" route of attack is for the pesky buggers to try to hitch a ride on ornamental shrub shipments which are coming up from southern California to various nursery's here in the north bay. These days we also have to be vigilant for the light brown apple moth, as well as the transporting of the grapevine mealybug from place to place.

As happy as I may be to be out of Ol' Man Winters' grasp, I would've preferred to have a few days of hard frost to make my life easier as far as pest management is concerned. And although we did have some cold weather -as well as a little more snow on the ridges than usual- it never really seemed to get that cold, or cold-enough to put an icy foot on the pests' little necks....
Even though an occasional late March frost (or Alaskan cold front) isn't out of the question, it's hard to envision one happening when the daytime temps are as high as they are now. If we'd had more of a penetrating frost during the winter, then maybe there would be a few more damaged vines, but less pressure for farmers to spray very heavily.
The slight increase in the number of damaged vines from winter frost is something I'd be willing to sacrifice every once in a while to help control the little SOB's, but that's due to the fact that I advocate pruning late and can compensate for some damaged buds here and there.
Mind you, I'm not wishing there was an ice storm like we sometimes see damaging Florida's citrus crops, or the current winter storms we see across most of the rest of the country right now...just a little deeper cold snap back in late December or early January.

There's been more rainfall this year but we're still about 10" short of where we should be
(I'm showing 28.5" so far since July of last year). That usually isn't a problem since March will dump ~7" of rain on average, and April and May both contribute ~2" each to the season's total....but the cold weather is pretty much a memory for this season.

See these posts for more information on the pest threats we collectively face!

2007/06/Vine mealybug threat

And here are the IPM websites for each of the pests:
GWSS - sharpshooters
Light Brown Apple Moth
Grapevine Mealybug

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